What is Testosterone?
You might instantly think of big bulky muscle man when you hear the word testosterone, as typically it is associated with males. But women do have it too, and ladies with PCOS can have it in much higher volumes than ladies without.
It is an androgen hormone produced in the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Its needed for our menstrual cycle, bone health, libido and breast development. As important as it is, we do not want to have it in large amounts.
Unfortunately, this is a common factor for us cysters, so we need to recognise our symptoms and understand some of the issues we might be struggling with when PCOS and testosterone come together…
PCOS and Testosterone – Irregular periods
Periods become irregular from the loss of ovulation in a cycle. This is a very common symptom where we experience irregular or no periods at all.
PCOS and Testosterone – Insulin Resistance
When we have high testosterone, insulin resistance in more likely to occur. Insulin is a hormone released from the pancreas when we consume food, and its main role is to take sugar into our cells for energy. Think of it like a lock and key. Sugar is the lock and insulin is the key! When we are resistant, the key doesn’t fit in the lock, therefore leaving sugar in our blood streams. Our blood sugar levels, and insulin levels rise.
When insulin is high in the blood, it stimulates an enzyme called 17-hydroxylase which tells the ovaries to make more testosterone.
PCOS and Testosterone – Hair loss
Ever brush your hair in the shower and see clumps of hair on your brush? Or wash your hair and block the drain with a lot of hair?
Everyone has different hair textures and thickness, but if you are noticing more hair than usual falling out, this could be a big sign you have PCOS and high testosterone.
We lose hair due to the miniaturization of the hair follicle. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is an opponent of hair follicles. The more our bodies produce it, the more hair loss with occur. High levels of testosterone will speed up this reaction, promoting hair loss.
PCOS and Testosterone – Hirsutism
This is the opposite to hair loss, where we see growth in unpleasant areas of the body. Affecting 5-10% of females, it is where ladies see a male-like pattern of hair in places such as their chin, neck, back and upper stomach.
Hair follicles are stimulated from testosterone, so grow at a rapid rate. It can also be caused by past drug use – birth control is one! If you’ve been following me for as a while now, you know I am against all medication for PCOS, as it only masks the symptoms.
PCOS and Testosterone – Anxiety and Depression
Did you know women with PCOS are 60% more likely to develop anxiety or depression in their lifetime than women without? That’s a huge proportion of us and one we should take seriously. Not only can PCOS symptoms be cruel and tough to deal with, having higher plasma testosterone levels inevitably contribute to depression cases.
There are many other symptoms which can follow from high testosterone including acne, skin tags, dark skin patches, oily skin and long menstrual cycles. We need to put our health first and change our diet and lifestyle to bring the levels down.
There are many beauty options now on the market, including laser hair removal and many treatments however if we address the root cause, I can promise you these symptoms are easily reversed.
We want to be eating a diet full of dark green leafy vegetables, plenty of lean protein and Low GI Carbohydrates.
We want to be careful on our sugar intake, so our insulin is controlled. Strength training should be incorporated into our weekly exercise regime as it’s proven to improve insulin sensitivity dramatically.
Don’t look for the easy way out. Put your health first and try to understand PCOS and your body. On my 1 to 1 coaching program, we dive deep to find your root cause and implement new habits to improve symptoms.
Get in contact to set up a free mini consultation call today!