High testosterone levels can cause a variety of symptoms, including hairiness, mood swings, and acne. They can result from certain medical conditions and the use of drugs or anabolic steroids. High testosterone levels can lead to serious problems in men, such as an enlarged prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
In men, the functions of testosterone include regulating libido, bone and muscle mass, and sperm production. Women also have testosterone, but in lesser amounts. In women, testosterone contributes to the growth and maintenance of female reproductive tissues and bone mass. Testosterone is essential for good health, but too much can increase the risk of health problems, such as an enlarged prostate. In this article, we look at the signs of high testosterone, also known as hyperandrogenism, in men.
Signs of high testosterone
Testosterone is a hormone. It is produced in the testicles in males at birth and in the ovaries in females at birth. Also, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a precursor to testosterone, is produced in the adrenal glands. People can also take synthetic testosterone in drug form. The effects of high testosterone levels are usually only seen with synthetic sources. A 2017 study of over 9,000 men living in Europe and the United States found that the total testosterone range for men aged 19-39 is between 264 and 916 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl) . Levels above this range are considered high.
High levels of synthetic testosterone can lead to hepatic adenoma:
hepatic adenoma, liver tumor
inflammation of the prostate
The authors of a 202 study noted that men with high levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a substance that acts with testosterone, may have a higher risk of acne and hair loss. However, they did not establish a direct link between this effect and high levels of testosterone.
Testosterone may also play a role in the development of prostate cancer. Testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, but it can help fuel it once it has appeared. Reducing testosterone levels can help decrease the risk of the cancer coming back or progressing. There may be a link between testosterone replacement therapy and the development of prostate cancer.
Men with very high testosterone levels may experience the following symptoms
aggressive or risky behavior
heart or liver problems
high blood pressure (hypertension)
low sperm count
enlarged prostate, which can lead to difficulty urinating
swelling of the legs and feet
unexplained weight gain
High testosterone levels can be a sign of an underlying health condition that is increasing circulating testosterone levels in the body.
Factors that can increase testosterone levels are:
acromegaly or Cushing’s syndrome, which affects the pituitary gland
benign or cancerous adrenal tumors
congenital adrenal hyperplasia
the use of certain medications, such as fluoxymesterone
the use of anabolic steroids
Athletes and bodybuilders sometimes use anabolic steroids to improve athletic performance and build muscle mass. Testosterone replacement therapy can treat low testosterone levels.
What causes high testosterone levels in women and what are the symptoms?
Diagnosis of high testosterone
Doctors typically use the following procedures to diagnose high testosterone in men:
A physical examination
The doctor can look for signs and symptoms of high testosterone, including acne and increased muscle mass. He will also ask about the patient’s libido and mood.
The doctor may order blood tests to check the person’s testosterone hormone levels. He may also check glucose and cholesterol levels, as testosterone levels can affect these. Since testosterone secretion is usually highest in the early morning, the doctor will often take blood for testing in the morning.
The type of treatment for high testosterone depends on the underlying cause of the imbalance.
Stopping taking steroids or medications
When high testosterone is the result of anabolic steroid use or testosterone supplementation, stopping these substances usually resolves the problem. In one study, 88.4% of male participants taking testosterone supplements failed to produce sperm. However, six months after stopping supplement use, 65% of these people started producing sperm again.
In rare cases, a tumor can produce sex hormones that can increase testosterone levels. If a tumor is contributing to high testosterone levels, the person may need surgery. If the tumor is cancerous, the patient may need other treatments, including:
Medications can help lower high testosterone levels in people with underlying conditions.
steroid synthesis inhibitors to treat Cushing’s disease
alpha-reductase inhibitors, to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia
gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues, to reduce testosterone levels in people being treated for prostate cancer.
Anyone who experiences symptoms while using testosterone replacement therapy should seek medical attention. People using testosterone replacement therapy will usually have regular appointments as the doctor will need to monitor their progress.
When to ask for help?
People who think they have high testosterone levels should see a doctor. They may need treatment to fix an underlying health problem or to reduce the risk of complications such as liver problems and osteoporosis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about hyper-testosterone in men.
What happens when a man’s testosterone levels are too high?
High testosterone levels are known as hyperandrogenism. In adults, there are only a few visible signs. But there may be a risk of complications such as liver tumor, jaundice and enlarged prostate.
What happens when a man’s testosterone levels are too low?
Low testosterone is known as hypogonadism. An adult male with low testosterone may experience:
breast enlargement, called gynecomastia
difficulty gaining muscle mass
a low sperm count
a lack of energy
hot flashes, in severe cases
With age, testosterone levels tend to drop, which can lead to these symptoms.
What is the normal testosterone level in an adult male?
The normal level is between 450 and 600 ng/dL. If the level is below 300 ng/dl, the doctor can diagnose a deficiency and prescribe testosterone replacement therapy.
Rates vary by age group and may fluctuate throughout the day. The most accurate measurements are taken early in the morning.
High testosterone levels in men can lead to a variety of symptoms, including excessive facial and body hair, aggression, and infertility. In men, high testosterone is most often due to the use of anabolic steroids or testosterone supplementation. People with symptoms associated with high testosterone should see their doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Untreated high testosterone levels can increase the risk of infertility, cancer, and other problems.