What are symptoms of high testosterone in women or PCOS?

DO you have high testosterone?

With over 20% of Australian women (and indeed other western women) suffering with high testosterone, you could be one.

Despite doctors knowing about this condition, most are not apt at picking it up nor diagnosing it.

I wrote a book 7 years ago called Beauty and the Beast Within and it has been helping women world wide better understand this common condition.

In my book I refer to high testosterone as Female Hormone Disorder, as many have high testosterone, or high estrogen, or both but lack cysts on their ovaries there for don’t get the label of PCO. Which is ok, but they wander from doctor to doctor wondering why they suffer with anger out bursts, or bad acne when they are 28 or can’t fall pregnant. All symptoms of a hormone disorder.

What is PCO?

Poly cystic ovaries (PCO) or poly cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a medically diagnosed condition in women (ONLY). Diagnosis (and agreement on it has taken years) is made when a woman has a high androgen (testosterone state) on blood testing  and  cysts on her ovaries.

The cysts can be caused by high estrogen and altered insulin levels too.

Unfortunately I think this diagnosis (and medicine has grappled with correct criteria) is a bit misleading. For example, women with testosterone and may have other symptoms but not the cysts and are told they don’t have PCO.

There are a range of symptoms that affect women when their testosterone levels are elevated.

Commonly people (and specialists) make the mistake of thinking you need all the symptoms (or cysts on your ovaries)  before diagnosis is made.

I have been treating women with high testosterone for over 13 years, and myself included. So hopefully some of the advice I give here can help you too.

I have recognised that testosterone in women acts more like a stress hormone than a sex hormone. This subtle but important difference will help you understand some of the symptoms and also how to manage it.

When we feel threatened or under stress testosterone rises.

Typically cortisol, adrenaline and in women testosterone start to rise when we are stressed.

It is our “don’t-stand- between-me-and-my-loved-ones-or- I-will-rip-your-arms-off ” hormone and it can lead to incredible acts of heroism as well as RAGE!

According to the RACGP one in five women have PCO (the condition caused by high testosterone in women) and note that 70% remain undiagnosed. I would agree. So many women I see have the problem but are being misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.

Which doesn’t matter unless you suffer with one or some of the following and you are trying to fix yourself!

Typical feelings (and signs) of high testosterone are:

  • Irritability, aggression, annoyance, low tolerance
  • Road rage
  • Yelling
  • Uncontrollable rage
  • Poly cystic ovaries (PCO)
  • Infertility
  • Belly fat
  • Neck fat
  • No period (annovulation) or longer cycle
  • Unwanted facial hair
  • Acne (especially chin, chest and back)
  • Excessive hair growth on arms, pubic area, stomach
  • Thinning of hair on head (widows peak)
  • High sex drive
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Anxiety, an inability to switch off, insomnia

So some of these may apply to you. You do not need all of them to have a diagnosis of elevated testosterone.

In my experience medically, if they are suspecting high testosterone (or PCO), you will be sent for an ultra sound of your ovaries to see if you have cysts (which may or may not be present). In my opinion cysts are only one way this condition can manifest and cysts not essential for diagnosis. You may also be offered a blood test for free testosterone. Once again this may or may not be elevated.

I prefer using saliva testing and after discussing symptoms, how a woman is feeling, can usually elicit whether their testosterone is up. Although saliva is black and white and preferable.

If you would like to do the saliva test you can order it on-line here.

This pack includes the saliva test kit which you do from home and post to a lab in Melbourne (postage paid envelope included with the kit). The lab takes 2-3 weeks to give us your results and when they are back we have a skype or phone consultation together to discuss the results and how you can balance your hormones.

It is a powerful way to find out what your hormones are doing and very useful if you have HAD ENOUGH and want to move on.

This is a clip by Lynda explaining why she tested her hormones.

If you have any other questions either email me on sam@sambeaupatrick.com and I will personally respond or watch this youtube clip I did on Testosterone.