Whenever you think of testosterone, you probably relate it to men. Even though it is considered as a male sex hormone, women too produce testosterone in their reproductive organs. While optimal levels of testosterone help with major bodily functions, issues can arise when there is too much testosterone in your body. Changes in testosterone levels have been associated with health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) (1). This article discusses the symptoms of high testosterone and how certain foods may naturally lower testosterone in women.
In This Article
What Does Testosterone Do For A Woman?
Research suggests that testosterone along with estrogen is essential for bone health, mental health, and cognitive performance (2), (3). In men, the normal testosterone level is considered to be between 264 to 916 ng/ dL, while in women it falls between 15 to 46 ng/dL (4), (5). Maintaining normal testosterone levels is essential for maintaining muscle mass, sexual function, and strength. High testosterone levels in women come with its own set of symptoms (6).
Symptoms Of High Testosterone In Women
- Excessive facial hair growth
- Irregular periods
- Androgenic alopecia – hair loss
- Acanthosis nigricans – dark skin patches
- Heightened aggression
If you notice any of the above symptoms, consult your doctor. High testosterone levels can be indicative of an underlying medical condition.
Possible Causes Of High Testosterone Levels In Women
Various hormonal diseases can cause hormonal changes in women. Some of them are:
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Studies suggest that hyperandrogenism or high levels of testosterone is a hallmark symptom of PCOS (9). PCOS is a hormonal disorder characterized by enlarged ovaries with small cysts and irregular periods.
- Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)
Increased levels of testosterone and progesterone have been associated with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (10). This is a group of genetic disorders that affect your adrenal glands which secrete hormones such as cortisol and testosterone. People diagnosed with CAH lack one of the enzymes necessary for the regulation of these hormones, which can result in too much testosterone.
Studies suggest that hirsutism or excessive facial hair in women can cause high levels of testosterone in the body (11). Hirsutism is a condition that results in the growth of coarse, dark hair on a woman’s face, chest, and back. This occurs due to the excessive production of male hormones such as testosterone.
While there are several factors involved in the regulation of testosterone, a healthy diet is key in keeping your testosterone levels in check.
Best Food For Lower Testosterone In Women
Here are a few foods that may help lower your testosterone levels:
- Soy-based Products
Research suggests that consuming soy products regularly may result in lower levels of testosterone. A study was conducted to see the effect of soy protein on reproductive hormones in men. The results suggested that consuming soy protein for 54 days saw a decrease in testosterone (12). Another study found that soy decreased prostate weight and testosterone levels in rats (13). Even though the results seem promising, more studies on women are warranted to understand the association between soy products and testosterone levels.
Mint is most popularly used for soothing stomach diseases (14). Studies suggest that mint may cause a dip in your testosterone levels. A study was conducted to see the effect of spearmint tea on women with PCOS. After 30 days, the researchers found that there was a significant decline in total testosterone levels (15). Similarly, in an animal study, administering spearmint tea for 20 days showed a decrease in testosterone levels and body weight in rats with PCOS (16).
- Licorice Root
Licorice has been used as a remedy in Chinese medicine for years for its pharmacological properties (17). Recently, studies have indicated that licorice root may essentially influence the hormone levels in the body. A study was conducted to see the effect of licorice on serum testosterone levels in healthy women during their periods. The study showed a significant decrease in serum testosterone levels in the first month itself (18).
A few studies suggest that flaxseeds may play a role in the reduction of testosterone levels. A pilot study was conducted on men with prostate cancer who were instructed to go on a low-fat and flaxseed supplemented diet for 34 days. The results indicated a significant decrease in total and serum testosterone levels (19). Another case study conducted on a woman with PCOS reported a decrease in testosterone levels after eating flaxseed supplements for 4 months (20).
There is some scientific evidence that suggests drinking tea may affect the levels of testosterone levels in your body. A study was conducted to see the effects of spearmint tea on testosterone levels of women diagnosed with PCOS. The participants were asked to drink spearmint tea twice a day for a month’s time in comparison to a placebo herbal tea. After 30 days, the participants showed a significant reduction in the total and free testosterone levels (21).
Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids that have been associated with lowering androgen levels in women. A study was conducted to investigate the effect of omega-3 supplements on overweight women with PCOS. The women were administered 3 grams of omega-3 supplements or a placebo for 8 weeks. The results indicated that women administered omega-3 supplements showed lower levels of testosterone than the placebo group (22). While the results are promising, more studies are warranted to understand the association between omega-3 fatty acids and testosterone levels.
- Testosterone is essential for bone health, mental health, and cognitive performance.
- Excessive facial hair growth, acne, irregular periods, androgenic alopecia (hair loss), acanthosis nigricans (dark skin patches), and heightened aggression indicate the presence of high testosterone in women.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), and hirsutism can be the cause behind high testosterone levels in women.
To Sum It Up
Testosterone, primarily considered a male hormone, is produced in small amounts in women’s ovaries and adrenal glands. While healthy levels of testosterone are essential for bodily functions, high levels of testosterone have been associated with medical conditions such as PCOS and adrenal hyperplasia. Eating a diet rich in food such as flaxseeds and soy-based products may help lower testosterone in women.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which exercise reduces testosterone in females?
Does zinc lower testosterone in females?
Yes. Research indicates that zinc plays a role in decreasing the concentration of testosterone in the body (25).
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- Using human genetics to understand the disease impacts of testosterone in men and women
- Testosterone in women–the clinical significance
- Revisiting the role of testosterone: Are we missing something?
- Harmonized Reference Ranges for Circulating Testosterone Levels in Men of Four Cohort Studies in the United States and Europe
- Testosterone reference ranges in normally cycling healthy premenopausal women
- Gonadal Steroids and Body Composition Strength and Sexual Function in Men
- Androgen Excess in Women: Experience with Over 1000 Consecutive Patients
- Aggression in Women: Behavior Brain and Hormones
- Hyperandrogenism in polycystic ovarian syndrome and role of CYP gene variants: a review
Hyperandrogenism in polycystic ovarian syndrome and role of CYP gene variants: a review | Egyptian Journal of Medical Human Genetics | Full Text (springeropen.com)
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: Diagnostic advances
- HIRSUTISM: EVALUATION AND TREATMENT
- Soy protein isolates of varying isoflavone content exert minor effects on serum reproductive hormones in healthy young men
- Dietary soy-phytoestrogens decrease testosterone levels and prostate weight without altering LH prostate 5alpha-reductase or testicular steroidogenic acute regulatory peptide levels in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats
- Treatment of functional dyspepsia with a fixed peppermint oil and caraway oil combination preparation as compared to cisapride. A multicenter reference-controlled double-blind equivalence study
- Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial
- Role of Essential Oil of Mentha Spicata (Spearmint) in Addressing Reverse Hormonal and Folliculogenesis Disturbances in a Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in a Rat Model
- The antiviral and antimicrobial activities of licorice a widely-used Chinese herb
- Licorice reduces serum testosterone in healthy women
- Pilot study of dietary fat restriction and flaxseed supplementation in men with prostate cancer before surgery: exploring the effects on hormonal levels prostate-specific antigen and histopathologic features
- The Effect of Flaxseed Supplementation on Hormonal Levels Associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Case Study
- Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. a randomized controlled trial
- The effect of omega-3 supplementation on androgen profile and menstrual status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial
- Regular Mindful Yoga Practice as a Method to Improve Androgen Levels in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Effect of exercise on serum androgens in postmenopausal women: a 12-month randomized clinical trial
- The Role of Zinc in Selected Female Reproductive System Disorders