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Physical Effects of High Testosterone in Women

by
author image Maura Banar
Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.
Physical Effects of High Testosterone in Women
A blonde woman is popping a pimple. Photo Credit gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

High testosterone levels in women, also known as hyperandrogenism, can be caused by medical conditions such as adrenal disease or tumors, polycystic ovarian syndrome and Cushing's disease. High levels of testosterone in women can cause significant physical effects. See your doctor if you experience these symptoms of high testosterone levels.

Virilization

Virilization -- physical changes distinguishing men from women -- is an indication of significantly high levels of testosterone in women. Symptoms of virilization include enlargement of the clitoris, lowering of the voice and breast atrophy. This condition is often associated with tumors of the adrenal glands or ovaries. Virilization also includes increased libido and male-pattern muscle mass gain and if left untreated, can lead to increased risks of heart disease and hypertension.

Hair Loss

Male pattern hair loss -- androgenetic alopecia -- is a common physical effect of high testosterone levels in women. Generally, this hair loss begins at the vertex of the scalp and continues to the temples, much like the pattern seen in males. Diffuse hair loss might affect the entire scalp.

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Hirsutism

Hirsutism is a condition in which a woman develops excess coarse hair growth the way men typically do -- on the chin, face, abdomen and chest. Treatment for hirsutism may include electrolysis and laser hair removal. Prescription medications such as oral contraceptives may also counteract excess hair growth.

Acne

Acne is a common side effect of hyperandrogenism. High levels of testosterone increase the production of sebum, a viscous substance that can clog the pores. Bacteria on the face cause inflammation, leading to the formation of acne on the face, back and chest. Medications, frequent washing of the affected areas and application of over-the-counter acne cream may decrease acne.

Menstrual Problems

Women with high levels of testosterone might experience disturbances in their menstrual cycle. This usually occurs in the form of amenorrhea -- complete cessation of menstruation. Oligomenorrhea -- infrequent or light menstrual cycles --may also be caused by high testosterone levels in women. These menstrual disturbances can eventually lead to infertility.

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References

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