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What Causes Too Much Testosterone?

by
author image Erica Roth
Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.
What Causes Too Much Testosterone?
A man is receiving an injection. Photo Credit csakisti/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

Testosterone is a hormone called an androgen and is present in the bodies of both males and females. According to the National Institutes of Health, normal testosterone levels range from 30 to 95 ng/dL, or nanograms per deciiter, in women and between 300 and 1200 ng/dL in men. Levels that fall above these ranges mean that your body is producing too much of the hormone, a condition caused by a variety of possible factors.

Adrenal Disorders

Disorders involving the adrenal glands--small organs located above the kidneys--can cause your body to produce too much testosterone. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a condition that you're born with and can be passed down through families. People with congenital adrenal hyperplasia do not make enough cortisol and aldesterone, according to NIH's MedlinePlus service. When your body can't produce the other hormones, it creates more testosterone than needed.

Tumors that grow on the adrenal glands can also cause high testosterone levels; the growth causes the gland to secrete extra amounts of male hormones.

Cancer

The American Association for Clinical Chemistry--AACC--explains that some types of cancers can create uneven levels of testosterone in your body. Tumors that appear on organs that regulate hormones and their processes, such as the adrenal glands, ovaries or testicles, may all cause you to produce more testosterone than your body requires.

PCOS

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a medical condition affecting women and can be both a cause and effect of a woman's high levels of testosterone. An imbalance of all of a woman's female hormones--estrogen and progesterone--can cause her to have too much testosterone in her body, in comparison to her other hormonal levels. This increased concentration of androgens, or male hormones, can cause menstrual irregularities and infertility in some women, in addition to more exaggerated male characteristics of facial hair and deepening voices, due to high levels of testosterone.

Early-Onset Puberty

Hitting puberty earlier than normal can be a cause for a boy having too much testosterone. According to MedlinePlus, puberty is considered early or precocious when a boy develops pubic, underarm and facial hair and experiences significant growth of the genitals and a deepening of the before before reaching his ninth birthday. Early-onset puberty may be associated with adrenal disorders or other types of tumors in some cases, which explains the higher-than-normal levels of testosterone. In some cases, the cause for these early physical changes is unknown.

Drug Use

Using illicit drugs or anabolic steroids for non-medical uses, as well as taking prescription medications for medically warranted conditions, may cause you to make too much testosterone, according to the AACC. Women who take clomiphene to induce ovulation or undergo hormone replacement therapy with estrogen may experience higher levels of testosterone. Men and women who use anti-seizure medications or barbiturate drugs can also suffer from too much testosterone.

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