Androgen Excess in Women

Androgen excess in women can result in hirsutism, acne, infertility, and glucose intolerance. Androgen excess is the main cause of androgen problems in women. 

Androgen disorders in women

Androgens are just as important for women as they are for men. 

Testosterone is the primary androgen hormone in men, but in women, DHEA-S and androstenedione have equally important roles. 

Hyperandrogenism is the most common hormonal disorder in young women. 

Hyperandrogenism is known as androgen excess. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of androgen excess. 

The cause of PCOS is insulin resistance because insulin stimulates the body to produce excess androgen hormones. 

Most treatments for PCOS are very similar to treatments for insulin resistance. 

Androgen excess in women can also cause...

  • an increased risk of cancer

  • cardiovascular disease

  • cholesterol problems

  • diabetes

  • insulin resistance

  • high blood pressure

  • obstructive sleep apnea

Cancer of the ovary or weight gain

Deepening of the voice, enlargement of the clitoris, and male-pattern balding are known as virilism. These may be signs of more severe androgen problems such as cancer of the ovary or adrenal gland. 

Weight gain 
Weight gain and insulin resistance are closely tied. Weight gain is a primary feature of hyperandrogenism and if the insulin resistance gets worse, androgen levels go higher. 

The location of fat in women with insulin resistance is the same as women that have excess androgen. These women usually have fat around the belly and have trouble losing weight despite many dieting attempts. 

Improving insulin resistance lowers androgen levels and can help with losing weight. 

Excess body hair and facial hair

Androgen excess in women can cause hair growth on the upper lip, chin, sideburns, arms, nipples, chest, neck, stomach, buttocks, back, arms, shoulders, inner thighs, and legs. 

Excess hair growth isn't always a sign of an androgen problem, especially for women of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern heritage. 

Hair loss

Excess androgen can also cause hair loss from the scalp. Some women don't have visible hair loss, but report loss in excess amounts when showering or brushing hair. 

Men that have higher androgen levels can lose hair in the form of a receding hairline or hair loss on the top of the scalp. 


Persistence of acne into the late teens or 20's is usually a sign of androgen excess. 

Adult acne is usually hard to treat, but treatments for androgen excess in women make these medications more effective. 

Masculinization of the body

Other signs of elevated androgen levels include shrinkage of the breasts and hips and extensive muscle growth. 

This can also be a sign of serious androgen problems such as cancer of the adrenal glandor ovary. 

Excessive body odor

Hyperandrogenism increases production of stinky sweat, especially in the armpits. 

Androgen Excess in Women

Menstrual cycle problems

Androgen excess affects the menstrual cycle in one way or another. Women usually experience skipped periods. Androgen excess also causes light cycles, heavy flow, and periods that are missed, late, or too frequent. 

Some women with androgen excess stop having a menstrual cycle. This is known as amenorrhea. 

Acanthosis Nigricans

Insulin resistance is usually associated with darkening of the skin, usually on the neck and armpits. This is commonly seen with androgen excess. 

› Androgen Excess in Women

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