High Testosterone in Women – How To Lower It

Dr. Jolene Brighten Sex Hormones Leave a Comment

High testosterone in women is a real concern for many women. In fact, the question shows up on my Instagram page about once per week, which means we are loooong overdue for this article.

High Testosterone in Women Side Effects

Eating a hormone balancing diet can help relieve symptoms of high testosterone, PMS, hormonal headaches, menstrual cramps, mood swings and more! Download your FREE Hormone Starter Kit with 7 Day Meal Plan & Recipe Guide Book.

“I can’t keep up with the amount of hair on my chin! At this rate, I’m going to end up in the circus as the bearded lady,” 36-year-old Shannon shared.

In addition to hair on her chin, she was now shaving her belly, experiencing terribly oily skin and acne. Shannon’s symptoms pointed to high testosterone.

It’s important to keep in mind as we dive into this topic that testosterone is good for women. But like all hormones (and most things in life) too much of a good thing can be big trouble.

What Causes High Testosterone in women?

There can be several mechanisms at play, but one of the most common causes of elevated testosterone levels in women is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

But here’s the tricky part… not every woman with elevated testosterone has PCOS.

This was true of Shannon.

All of Shannon’s google searches were turning up PCOS. “But I’ve never missed a period in my life!”

She explained her periods had always been regular and remained regular. Her skin had been clear for the majority of her adult life. It was only in the last couple of years the pimples began to crop up, especially around her jawline.

She had noticed the darkening of her facial hair. The need to blot her face more often due to excess oil. Then the acne became a regular resident and the chin hair took a sharp turn towards dark, thick and coarse.

Unfortunately, the hair change is irreversible, you have to get it professionally removed once it becomes thick and coarse. This didn’t mean she had to live with it! It certainly didn’t mean we weren’t going to try to prevent her from getting more!

high testosterone in women causes

How Insulin & Blood Sugar Issues Cause High Testosterone in Women  

I explained to Shannon that the same mechanisms that cause high testosterone in women with PCOS were likely at play. Shannon was an ‘eat on the run’ kind of gal and admitted that she was pretty inconsistent about meals. Although she was eating dairy and gluten-free, she often ate a bag of gluten-free pretzels or fruit when feeling “desperately hungry.”

Blood sugar dysregulation is at the crux of many hormone imbalances, with elevated testosterone being no exception. That means this missing meals business was wreaking havoc on Shannon’s complexion and mood.

Blood sugar dysregulation is at the crux of many hormone imbalances, with elevated testosterone in women being no exception. Click To Tweet

It was these spikes and dips in blood sugar that were creating strain on Shannon’s adrenals. Her lab testing revealed HPA dysregulation and elevation of inflammatory markers. Shannon’s adrenals were struggling and as a result her inflammation was climbing. Her insulin levels were mildly elevated, along with clear signs her blood sugar was often higher than it should be.

As insulin climbs it can stimulate the adrenals to produce testosterone.

While many body tissues will begin ignoring insulin signals (insulin resistance), your ovaries are among the few organs that will continue to remain sensitive to insulin.  Even when insulin just will not quit bugging that cell!

This stimulation causes the ovary to produce testosterone. In women with PCOS (and the chronic insulin overstimulation that accompanies it), this can lead to the typical structural changes that are seen in PCOS.

Get the Hormone Meal Plan and Recipe Guide that helped Shannon get her hormones in check! Download your FREE Hormone Starter Kit with 7 Day Meal Plan & Recipe Guide Book.

What to Do About That High Testosterone…

While Shannon’s doctor strongly encouraged her to get on the birth control pill to drop her testosterone, Shannon was concerned about the other side effects. And rightly so! The pill can definitely lower testosterone, but at the expense of your libido and mood.

Shannon’s goal was to get to the root cause of her symptoms without suppressing her body’s normal hormones function. I explained that in order for us to have a clear understanding of where her hormones and body were imbalanced we couldn’t introduce a pharmaceutical that masks the underlying cause. So we got to work quickly with lab testing and natural therapies.

One of our first steps was to get Shannon on a regular meal schedule, including fat and protein with meals. We swapped out her 3 cups of black coffee for green tea. Green tea increases Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), a protein that grabs onto excess testosterone. We also got her going with fresh ground flax seed, which is a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and has been shown to also raise SHBG.

I started Shannon on hormone supportive herbs Saw Palmetto, Vitex, and Licorice. Because natural therapies can take time to improve symptoms we wasted no time in getting her hormones back on course.

These herbs are part of my PCOS Basic Kit (no you don't have to have PCOS to have elevated testosterone), which is designed to help support healthy hormone production, including adrenal, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. When all of these hormones are in balance women feel the super powers that come with having incredibly healthy hormones.

Shannon had lifestyle homework too. Regular sleep, meals, and a daily journaling practice to help her release the stress of the day.

With the help of my clinical team, Shannon was able to bring her testosterone back into balance. Along with her other hormones, she was able to get clear, beautiful skin. After having electrolysis to remove the unwanted hair, Shannon was happy to report there was no new growth. (Remember, once it has gone course there is no going back without professional hair removal. That’s why Shannon’s hair troubles required an additional healthcare team member – the esthetician).

Supplements for High Testosterone

I generally recommend women begin with 4 key supplements: Balance, Adrenal Support, Saw Palemetto Plus, and N-Acetyl Cysteine because of their synergistic benefits.

1. DIM for High Testosterone

Balance contains Vitex, in addition to green tea extract, DIM, and calcium d-glucarate to support estrogen and testosterone metabolism. Learn about Balance here.

2. Licorice for High Testosterone

Adrenal Support contains licorice, which has been shown to have great benefit in women with PCOS and excess testosterone symptoms. Because the adrenal glands can be a source of excess androgens, optimizing adrenal health can be tremendously beneficial for women who have high testosterone. Learn about Adrenal Support here.

3. Zinc & Saw Palmetto for High Testosterone

Saw Palmetto Plus contains zinc and Saw Palmetto, are important for keeping high testosterone symptoms in check. Saw Palmetto is an herb that prevents the conversion of testosterone to DHT, a potent form that causes hair loss on our head and growth on our chin and chest. Learn about Saw Palmetto Plus here.

I've bundled Balance, Adrenal Support, and Saw Palmetto Plus into one package called the PCOS Basic Kit.

4. N-Acetyl Cysteine for Clear Skin

N-Acetyl Cysteine is an important amino acid for optimizing weight, improving hair and skin, and creating clear skin. Learn about N-Acetyl Cysteine here.

All of these supplements together support a healthy menstrual cycle, glowing skin, and easier to manage weight.

Does talk of excess testosterone conjure up images of a bearded lady for you too? Grab my free hormone starter kit along with my hormone balancing meal plan to optimize your hormones!

Acne Before Ovulation & Testosterone

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What about when your acne shows up around ovulation? This is the second most common time for acne to show up based on what you told me. Go see my last post for the most common time acne shows up for all of you + what to do.⠀⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ Leading up to ovulation our testosterone often rises, which can lead to oily skin and acne. Now, estrogen will be on the rise too, so how can we differentiate which is the issue?⠀⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ Checking for other clues can be helpful. But don't forget, testing your hormones is super valuable, so when in doubt, get that test!⠀⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ Do you find that you also have darker hair on your chin, chest or abdomen?⠀⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ Are you losing hair on your head?⠀⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ Do you feel rage bubbling up or have noticed your aggressive tendencies on the rise?⠀⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ How's that body odor? If you feel like your NEED perfume then you NEED to get your testosterone levels checked.⠀⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ If you're dealing with testosterone driven acne then you need to read 👉High Testosterone in Women + What to Do About It (link @drjolenebrighten)⠀⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ In this article I explain what causes high testosterone so you can work at the root cause.⠀⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ Right now, during our sale, you get the Clear Skin Rx Master Class when you purchase the PCOS Basic Supplement Kit (an acne busting trifecta!). There's lots of hormone balancing kits + master classes to choose from. But hurry, this goes away 12/4 or when kits run out! LINK TO SALE IN MY BIO ⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ Now go read the article & get bring your hormones back into balance!⠀⠀⁠⠀ ⠀⠀⁠⠀ #drjolenebrighten #hormonalacne #beyondthepill #acnesolutions #PCOS⠀

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is one of the leading experts in women’s medicine and is a pioneer in her exploration of the far-reaching impact of hormonal birth control and the little known side effects that impact health in a large way. In her best selling book, Beyond the Pill, she shares her clinical protocols aimed at supporting women struggling with symptoms of hormone imbalance, including Post-Birth Control Pill Syndrome and birth control related side effects. A trained nutritional biochemist and Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Brighten is the founder and Clinic Director at Rubus Health, an integrative women’s medicine clinic. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and has been featured in prominent media outlets such as Forbes, Cosmopolitan, ABC news, and the New York Post. Read more about me here.