High Level of Testosterone in Males

High Level of Testosterone in Males

Table of Contents

Testosterone is an extremely important hormone for men. It’s responsible for many of the body characteristics that we associate with males, including greater muscle mass, a deep voice, and hair on the face and body.

When testosterone is too low, it can cause a variety of different problems in a man. But can testosterone be too high? What does high testosterone do to a man? Is there a reason to worry about having too much?

Can a man have too much testosterone?

High levels of testosterone actually can cause serious health problems in men. The signs of high testosterone in men include:

  • Low sperm count and infertility. Although low testosterone can lead to infertility, high testosterone can cause this problem as well. 
  • Problems with getting an erection. Some people are surprised to learn that this is one of the common signs of too mcuh testosterone in males, given that testosterone is associated with a high libido (sex drive). In fact, high testosterone levels can also decrease a man’s sex drive.
  • The formation of blood clots in veins in the legs (known as deep venous thrombosis). These can move to the lungs, a condition called pulmonary embolism. This can be fatal.
  • The production of too many red blood cells, a condition known as polycythemia vera. 
  • Mood swings. Men with high testosterone may feel irritable, depressed, or anxious. Because low testosterone also causes similar changes in the mood, some men think that they must have low testosterone and start taking supplements, which makes the problem worse.
  • Sleep apnea. This is a condition in which an individual stops breathing repeatedly while they’re sleeping, which interferes with the quality of their sleep. Men with high testosterone have a greater risk of this condition, which can greatly affect the quality of life and is also associated with many serious health conditions like diabetes and cancer.
  • Breast enlargement. This occurs because some of the excess testosterone gets converted to estrogen in the body. This can then lead to the development of breast tissue.

Can testosterone raise blood pressure?

High levels of testosterone are associated with changes in blood pressure. This can actually manifest as high or low blood pressure. If high testosterone raises your blood pressure, this contributes to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. If testosterone causes low blood pressure, then you may feel symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, and headaches.

What are the causes of high testosterone in males?

In women, high testosterone is most often due to an underlying medical condition, like PCOS. However, in men, by far the most common cause of high testosterone in men is actually taking testosterone.

Anabolic steroids, which are commonly used by certain groups of men (such as bodybuilders and competitive athletes), are synthetic versions of testosterone. These act like testosterone in the body and lead to the symptoms of high testosterone. Some men also take testosterone supplements, either because they have low levels of natural testosterone or because they believe that they do. Taking too many supplements can result in the level of testosterone being too high. This is why it’s important to test your levels before you begin supplementation, and to continue to test them to make sure you’re taking the right amount, especially if you begin to experience any of the possible symptoms of high testosterone.

Another possible cause of high testosterone in a man is a tumor. In certain tumors of the adrenal glands or testes, the cancer cells may produce testosterone. As the tumor grows, it drives the levels of testosterone very high. These tumors are uncommon, but they do occur. Another possibility is hyperthyroidism, which can also lead to high testosterone. 

Although it’s far more common for a man’s levels to be high because he’s taking testosterone, there are also some men who have naturally higher levels of testosterone. Studies show that these men are at greater risk for the same health issues that are associated with taking supplemental testosterone. However, their levels are usually not nearly as high as the levels that may be caused by steroids.

Are there benefits of having high testosterone?

When men have low testosterone, they may feel depressed and have low energy, among other effects. Supplementing in order to bring testosterone to normal levels can bring about a variety of positive effects. However, as with many hormones, balance is the key. While low testosterone certainly does cause symptoms, high testosterone also causes problems. In general, when a man’s testosterone is too high, he will not feel his best.

High testosterone levels will cause a significant increase in muscle mass, and can lead to improvements in athletic performance. This is why it’s common for bodybuilders and athletes to take testosterone (in the form of anabolic steroids). Although many men like the look and feel of the very large muscles that steroids make possible, there’s a lot of harm to the body that’s caused in the process. In addition, taking extra testosterone to boost athletic performance is generally considered doping and is not usually permitted in sports competitions.

What can you do about excess testosterone symptoms?

If excess testosterone is caused by taking steroids or testosterone supplements, then stopping or decreasing the amount that a man takes will help to bring his testosterone levels back to normal. This is usually enough to solve the issue. For example, in one study of men taking testosterone supplements, 88% of them had a very low sperm count. However, after they stopped taking the meds, almost ⅔ of them started producing sperm again within six months.

For men with naturally high testosterone, balancing the levels can sometimes be accomplished in natural ways, like exercise, healthy eating, and reducing stress. If this isn’t effective, then there are also prescription medications called androgen blockers that can help to reduce the symptoms of high testosterone in a man. However, for most men, this won’t be necessary. Just stopping supplementation is often enough to normalize the levels.

Are there excess testosterone side effects?

Men who take anabolic steroids can have androgen levels that far exceed what the body would ever produce naturally. Even the so-called “natural” steroids are actually just versions of testosterone, and can cause the same problems. This can lead to a variety of undesirable effects in the male body.

It’s common for older men to take testosterone as a supplement. The levels naturally decline as a man ages, and some men find that taking extra testosterone helps to boost their mood, libido, and energy levels. It’s important to ensure that the amount given as a supplement is not too much, or the effects of high testosterone will start to become apparent.

A blood test is necessary to figure out if your levels of testosterone are too high. This is not included on a standard STD test – you will need to get a special hormone test in order to find out your testosterone levels. There are home testing kits available, or you can visit your doctor to get a blood test ordered from a laboratory. 

Sources

Men’s health: the influence of testosterone in men. Mayo Clinic (2021). https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/mens-health/multimedia/the-influence-of-testosterone/img-20007271. Accessed 9 April 2022.

Samplaski MK, Loai Y, et al. Testosterone use in the male infertility population: prescribing patterns and effects on semen and hormonal parameters. Fertil Steril 2014 Jan;101(1):64-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.09.003.

Testosterone – What It Does and Doesn’t Do. Harvard Medical School (2019). ​​https://www.health.harvard.edu/medications/testosterone–what-it-does-and-doesnt-do. Accessed 9 April 2022.

Zhao JV, Schooling CM. The role of testosterone in chronic kidney disease and kidney function in men and women: a bi-directional Mendelian randomization study in the UK Biobank. BMC Med 2020 Jun 4;18(1):122. doi: 10.1186/s12916-020-01594-x.

Zhao X, Liang S, et al. Sex-Specific Associations of Testosterone and Genetic Factors With Health Span. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) 2021 Nov 25;12:773464. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2021.773464.


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