When Are Androgen Levels Highest?
by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert
Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. L2 Strength & Conditioning Coach.
Whether you're interested in how to increase your testosterone or want to know more about your menstrual cycle, there are two ways to check your androgen levels. One way is by getting a blood test. This simple test measures free testerone in your system. It is often referred to as free or bioavailable testosterone. The two forms of testosterone act differently in the body, so healthcare providers may reach different conclusions about your symptoms depending on what's measured.
During the menstrual cycle
During the menstrual cycle, total testosterone levels are at their highest. Although total testosterone levels fluctuate during the cycle, a recent study concluded that the peak occurs around mid-cycle, just before ovulation. Some studies also suggested that testosterone levels peaked around the time of the luteinizing hormone surge before ovulation. Different people experience multiple increases in their testosterone levels during the menstrual cycle, with smaller relative increases in some women.
Estrogen is the female sex hormone. It is also known as the "3-growing hormone" because it is responsible for building the uterine lining and maturing the egg prior to ovulation. Estrogen is produced primarily by the ovaries, but is also produced in smaller quantities by the adrenal glands and fat tissue. Estrogen is highest during the first half of the menstrual cycle.
Some women may be predisposed to high androgen levels. The risk of developing polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is greater in women with elevated testosterone levels. This condition can cause irregular menstrual cycles, and can also lead to infertility. In addition, high levels of androgen are a warning sign of other medical conditions, including ovarian or adrenal tumor.
While androgens are a necessary part of the menstrual cycle, excess amounts can be detrimental to health. Not only can they cause cosmetic problems, but they can also lead to serious conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome. Women with this disorder may experience irregular menstrual cycles - a sign that they have not ovulated - and are therefore at risk for developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and glucose intolerance.
While testosterone is the most commonly known androgen, other androgens include dehydroepiandrosterone (DHT), androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S). These hormones are crucial to the development of both genders and are produced in both the ovaries and adrenal glands. They are also linked to female libido.
The menstrual cycle occurs once every month, and is controlled by several hormones and glands. It can last anywhere between 21 and 35 days and can include two distinct phases. The follicular phase begins after the first day of menstruation and is characterized by the development of ovarian follicles. At the same time, the LH surge initiates the hormonal reaction that leads to ovulation.
During periods of high androgen production
The female reproductive system produces two main hormones: testosterone and DHEA. Testosterone is the most active of the two hormones, and it is produced in the testes. The adrenal cortex also produces androgens. Both testosterone and DHEA can be converted into other hormones in the body, but DHEA and its sulfate have a smaller peak around ovulation. Testosterone can also accumulate in hair follicles, where its high levels may not be easily noticed.
A health care provider will use your medical history and a physical examination to determine the presence of high androgen levels. A blood test may measure your free testosterone and total testosterone. It may also measure other hormones, including the lipid profile, cholesterol levels, and luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin, and fasting blood glucose. Blood tests to detect abnormal androgen production may include an assessment of your thyroid and adrenal glands.
In addition to the cosmetic effects of high androgen levels, women may suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). They may also experience irregular or absent menstrual periods and high blood sugar. Hyperandrogenism can lead to a number of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and glucose intolerance. If you're suffering from any of these conditions, it is vital that you consult a physician as soon as possible.
However, low androgen levels can affect both men and women. Low androgen levels can result in decreased libido and lower well-being. Low levels of androgens have also been linked to bone loss and osteoporosis. This disease is often caused by ovarian failure, but it can also be caused by surgery to remove the ovaries.
Some women may take oral contraceptives during this time, but you should always consult a healthcare provider if you think your testosterone levels are too high. Oral contraceptives contain estrogen, but may increase the risk of pregnancy and heart disease. If you do experience high levels of testosterone, consult a doctor or gynecologist about the best course of treatment for your condition.
In women, the hormones estrogen and androgens are produced in the ovaries and converted into estrogen. Both males and females produce androgens in different amounts. A woman can produce too much or too little. This is known as androgen excess or deficiency. There are many other hormonal disorders associated with these hormones, including osteoporosis.