Testosterone is commonly associated with men because it is a male sex hormone called an androgen that is responsible for masculine characteristics and the male reproductive system; however, women also produce testosterone, albeit to a lesser extent. Men produce about 20 times more testosterone than women, but women need a small amount of testosterone too, and levels appear to influence pregnancy and fertility.
Because animal studies have indicated that maternal androgen levels influence fetal development, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology set out to examine human maternal androgen level effects during pregnancy. The results were published in the January 2006 issue of the "European Journal of Endocrinology." The study found that pregnant women with elevated testosterone levels deliver babies with smaller birth weight and length. The researchers concluded that elevated testosterone levels during pregnancy is associated with growth restriction in the womb.
Sex of Fetus
A study published in the May 1978 issue of the "American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology" measured testosterone levels in pregnant women during the first half of their pregnancy, from weeks seven to 20. After a normal pregnancy and delivery, testosterone levels were measured again. The study found a correlation between testosterone levels and the sex of the fetus. Women who delivered boys had significantly higher testosterone levels than women who delivered girls. The study concluded that testosterone levels are associated with the sex of your baby.
High testosterone levels appear to influence fertility. Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of Zagreb in Croatia examined the effects of elevated testosterone levels on fertility. The study, published in the June 2004 issue of the scientific metabolic journal "Diabetologia Croatia," found that increased rates of septate uterus were found in women with elevated testosterone levels. A septate uterus is a uterine abnormality during pregnancy and a risk factor for miscarriage.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
The Croatian study also found increased rates of polycystic ovary syndrome in women with elevated testosterone levels who were having fertility problems. POS is an imbalance in female sex hormones and can cause changes in your menstrual cycle and problems getting pregnant.
It is commonly known that getting the proper nutrients plays an important role in having a healthy pregnancy, but having balanced hormones also plays a role in pregnancy. If you are concerned about your testosterone levels, have your doctor check them. If your levels are abnormal, discuss your options with your doctor.
- "European Journal of Endocrinology"; Maternal Testosterone Levels During Pregnancy Are Associated with Offspring Size at Birth; S. M. Carlsen et al.; January 2006
- "American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology"; Maternal Peripheral Testosterone Levels During the First Half of Pregnancy; K. Klinga et al.; May 1978
- "Diabetologia Croatia"; Effect of Increased Testosterone Level on Women's Fertility; Zarko Speranda et al; June 2004
- Medline Plus: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome; Susan Storck; March 2010