Normal testosterone levels for women vary with age and can range from 30-95 nanograms of testosterone per deciliter of blood. Many people are surprised to find that testosterone is not an exclusively male hormone. Women also produce it, but in much lower quantities. Dramatic shifts away from this norm, where testosterone levels are either too high or too low, can trigger a number of symptoms, ranging from nuisances to serious medical conditions.
Testosterone is an androgen, a male hormone, and men produce it in large quantities in the testes. Typical testosterone levels for a young man might reach as high as 1,200 nanograms per deciliter, although these levels will steadily decline as the man ages. This hormone has a number of important functions, including the development of secondary sex characteristics, building muscle mass and stimulating the libido.
In women, testosterone is produced by both the ovaries and the adrenal glands, although at much lower levels than in males. Testosterone levels for women are typically no more than one-tenth of the levels for men of the same age. The levels in women are not sufficient to trigger a buildup of heavy muscle mass, but they do trigger secondary sex characteristics such as body hair. As it does in a male, testosterone also has an impact on a woman’s sex drive.
Prepubescent boys and girls have similar hormone levels, with typical testosterone levels below 30 nanograms per deciliter. As adolescence takes hold, hormone levels spike and generated by endorphin production sex characteristics become pronounced. In women, the ovaries primarily produce estrogen, but testosterone levels also rise, and testosterone levels for women peaks in their 20s, typically reaching levels of 70-95 nanograms per deciliter. As a woman ages, the levels of hormones, including testosterone, slowly decline. By the time she reaches menopause, testosterone levels are roughly half of their peak levels.
Insufficient testosterone levels for women can have a serious impact. Poor muscle tone, low energy, dry skin and hair loss can all be caused by testosterone deficiency. Low levels of the hormone can also have a dramatic effect on libido and sexual stimulation. Self-esteem, decisiveness and confidence issues might also be linked to a lack of testosterone.
Too much testosterone can also cause problems. One common effect of high testosterone levels for women is hirsutism, the growth of excessive facial or body hair. Male pattern baldness is also possible.
Treatment is available for atypical hormone levels for women, whether they are too high or too low. Any woman who is concerned that observed symptoms might be related to hormone levels should speak with a doctor. A simple test can confirm any imbalance so that the doctor can recommend a treatment plan.