Traditional ideas of femininity are so rigid, and it can be hard navigating the world if you’re a girl or femme person who doesn’t fit them–baby soft skin, hairless, slender, etc. This can be hard for literally any girl or woman to accomplish, but it’s especially tricky if you happen to be a girl who just happens to have been born with some extra testosterone in her system.
Let me back up.
Every single one of us is born with the hormones testosterone and estrogen. Testosterone is a hormone that helps promote male secondary sexual characteristics–think muscle tone, body hair–while estrogen is a hormone that generally helps promote female secondary sexual characteristics–like enlarged breasts or wide hips. As you can probably guess, people who are born as males have more testosterone than estrogen, and people who are born as females have more estrogen than testosterone. But sometimes, males have a little more estrogen than normal, and females have a little more testosterone than normal.
I’m here to talk about the latter: Females who are carrying around more testosterone than average. Don’t worry, you’re not some sort of freak! But it doesn’t hurt to know the signs of excess testosterone just in case? Why? Because it can help explain some things about your body that you might find strange, and it might be a way to detect whether you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS, which we’ve written about in depth several times). So check out these eight signs you have more testosterone than normal. Of course, you should talk to a doctor/gynecologist for a true diagnosis, but you can use this as a little guide.
You Have A LOT Of Body HairBut your super hairy arms or thick facial hair could be due to extra testosterone. This is called hirsutism, a condition in which women have excess body and facial hair, and it's associated with high levels of male hormones. You're more likely to have hirsutism if you're of South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Mediterranean descent. For the record, it's normal for women to get hairy. Plus, there are some women who don't have abnormal testosterone levels who just happen to be on the hairier side thanks to a little thing called genetics. But if your hairiness also comes with a side order of the rest of the symptoms listed in this post, you might just have a little extra testosterone in your body. Some Girls
You Have Irregular PeriodsEverything from stress, to exercise, to diet can have an impact on the regularity of your periods. So don't assume that your irregular periods are a result of excess testosterone. However, if your irregular periods couple with any of these other symptoms--excess body hair, acne, etc--then it would be fair to assume that testosterone is a factor. You should absolutely see a doctor ASAP if your periods are irregular. It might be nothing, but it might also be a result of PCOS. If you want your periods to become more regular, ask your doctor about birth control; they can help out your hormonal imbalance and trigger a more normal menstrual cycle. iStock
You're Struggling With AcneAcne is a part of growing up, but if your acne is severe--especially if it isn't responding to typical drugstore acne treatments--excess testosterone might be the culprit. Testosterone triggers excess oil production, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. So if you've wondered why some people take hormonal birth control to help treat their acne, now you know why: Birth control pills contain female hormones, providing a bit of a buffer to side effects of excess testosterone. iStock
You Often Have Facial Hair Around Your Chin And Upper LipMaybe you don't have hirsutism--excess body hair all over--but you might have a lot of thick facial hair. Again, it's normal for women to get hair on their faces. Who hasn't gotten their upper lip waxed or plucked out some chin hairs? But if your facial hair is a little thicker than the wispy hairs associated with female facial hair, this might be a result of excess testosterone. Pinterest
You Have A Deep VoiceLook, the deepness of one's voice is usually pretty damn subjective. But it's true that excess testosterone can certainly explain why your voice might be on the deep side if you were born female. A hormonal imbalance might certainly be in play if your deep voice is coupled with a visible Adam's apple. Yes, there are females with Adam's apples! Bob's Burgers
Your Clitoris Is Larger Than NormalIt's pretty hard to know what the average size of a clitoris is, especially since they come in so many different shapes and (perfectly normal) sizes. So the only way you'll really know that your clitoris is on the larger side is if a gynecologist lets you know. If you're worried about its size, set up an appointment! That way, you'll get the answer you're looking for and maybe even take a blood test to see where your testosterone levels are at. The To-Do List
You're Losing Your Hair Or Your Hair Is ThinningYou know how many men start to lose their hair along their hairline? Or their hair just starts thinning a lot. Well, that can also be the fate of women who happen to have a little extra testosterone in their system. Will you experience straight up male pattern baldness and need a toupee? No, it's not that deep. But if you've noticed hair loss that goes beyond your typical shedding, or thinning hair, testosterone might be the culprit. If you're bothered by this, consider talking to a doctor about hair growth options or medications that might slow your hair loss. Sarah Wintner
You Develop Serious Muscle MassThis can be pretty tough to notice since it's not as obvious as a period that's MIA or a bunch of hairs sprouting on your chin. Plus, if you're an athlete or you exercise a lot, gaining muscle isn't too out of the ordinary. But if you've noticed your muscle mass increasing steadily over a while without really doing much to make that happen, you might want to talk to a doctor and see if that's normal. iStock
Do you display any of these symptoms? Tell us in the comments!