What Is the Difference in Testosterone Between Men and Women?

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By Agata P. | Updated: Jun 09, 2020

What Is the Difference in Testosterone Between Men and Women?

Many women might not know that the commonly dubbed male hormone, testosterone, also plays a vital role in their health, although there are significant variations between both genders. Keep reading to discover the difference in testosterone between men and women, such as its production, healthy levels, roles, and symptoms of an imbalance.

Testosterone Production in Men and Women

In men, testosterone is principally produced in the testes (95%), with lesser amounts produced in the adrenal glands (5%).1 The hormone's production in men is much higher than in women, even as high as 20 times their levels.2

Testosterone production in women, on the other hand, mainly occurs in the ovaries as well as the adrenal glands and peripheral tissues, like skin or fat tissue. Most of the hormone is converted into estradiol, a form of estrogen.

Testosterone Levels in Men and Women

While testosterone levels in males vary from man to man, the hormone generally peaks around the age of 30 and gradually decreases thereafter, roughly 1% per year.1 However, despite its decline, most middle aged men's levels are still within a normal range.

Women's testosterone levels remain relatively stable throughout their life phases, also hitting their peak around 30 and declining slightly after postmenopause. It reaches its highest levels in pregnancy, usually tripling or quadrupling.3

Testosterone Roles in Men and Women

In males, testosterone drives pubertal body changes, like facial hair growth. In adulthood, its most important role relates to sexuality, such as regulating libido and sperm production, as well as other functions, like preserving bone density.  

In women, testosterone's roles are associated with maintaining libido and vaginal lubrication as well as regulating mood and memory; promoting health of the reproductive tract, bones, and skin; and stimulating production of red blood cells.

Testosterone Imbalance in Men and Women

Male testosterone imbalance that is significant enough to produce symptoms is typically due to low hormone levels, rather than high. It may negatively affect their sexual function, body fat, muscle tone, mood, and much more.

High testosterone among women is most commonly caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the leading cause of infertility as well as excess hair growth, weight gain, and irregular periods. Low testosterone levels, on the other hand, might increase the risk of osteoporosis, fatigue, and low libido.

Conclusions

Despite certain similarities, the differences in testosterone between men and women are clear, like where it is produced and in what quantities to its roles in the body and consequences of its imbalance. Because of its interactions with other hormones that are essential for overall female health, it is key for women to be mindful of testosterone in their bodies and instill various effective practices to balance hormones naturally, including simple lifestyle changes and herbal supplements. With a little initiative, overall hormonal equilibrium is within reach!

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