Testosterone fills many important functions, from maintaining bone density and muscle mass to regulating sex drive and sperm production. High testosterone alone does not necessarily cause problems or need to be treated; it all depends on how high the levels go and your overall health. However, several medical conditions and steroid abuse may cause an increase in testosterone levels. Since these conditions can impact your health, they require professional diagnosis and care.
Hyperthyroidism is a disorder in which your thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. While women are two to 10 times more likely than men to develop hyperthyroidism, it's a potential cause of high testosterone in men. This condition may be caused by inflammation of the thyroid gland, thyroid nodules and consuming too much iodine, but the most common cause is Graves' disease. Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system makes an antibody that attaches to the thyroid gland and stimulates the production of too much thyroid hormone.
Using Anabolic Steroids
Anabolic steroids, which consist of synthetically produced testosterone, have the ability to build muscle and increase male sexual characteristics, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. While they're prescribed by physicians to treat a variety of medical conditions, steroids are also used illegally to improve athletic performance. In addition to raising levels of testosterone, continuous use of steroids can result in serious side effects. Your body may stop producing it's own testosterone. Steroids also impact brain chemicals, which may affect mood, change behavior and lead to aggression.
Adrenal Gland Tumors
The University of Southern California states that your adrenal glands are two yellowish-orange colored glands that sit on top of your kidneys. They secrete several different hormones, including adrenalin, which affects your blood pressure and heart rate, and steroid hormones such as testosterone. Some types of tumors that form in the adrenal glands produce and secrete more testosterone than normal, so your levels go up. In men, this extra testosterone usually does not cause symptoms, according to the US Oncology Network. Other symptoms associated with an adrenal tumor include a lump in the abdomen and pain in the abdomen or back.
When puberty occurs earlier than normal -- before age 9 in boys -- it's called precocious puberty. During puberty, bones and muscles go through a growth spurt, the voice deepens and the reproductive system matures. It's normal for testosterone levels to go up during puberty, but it's not typical to have high testosterone at such an early age. Testosterone should return to normal levels in young adulthood. However, many kids who go through early puberty do not reach their full adult height because their bone growth stops at an earlier age than normal.
Is This an Emergency?
- MedlinePlus: Testosterone
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Hyperthyroidism
- University of Southern California: Adrenal Tumors
- Lab Tests Online: Testosterone
- Kids Health: Precocious Puberty
- US Oncology Network: Adrenal Gland Tumor
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drug Facts: Anabolic Steroids