How To Lower Androgen Levels in Females Naturally
Androgens are commonly known as “male sex hormones”, although this is not totally true because they are produced both in men and women. However, women usually have lower levels of androgens than men. In some cases, there is a hormonal imbalance and the androgen levels in women can raise, leading to effects such as growing excess hair in places that men typically have it, such as the chin, chest, arms and legs, back and buttocks. It can also lead to acne, a deepening of the voice and hair loss on the head.
Many women are interested in learning if there is any way that they can lower their androgen levels in a natural way. Let’s explore this!
The Role of Androgens in Women
All of us have two “types” of sex hormones – the “male” sex hormones, which are also called androgens, and the “female” sex hormones, which are called estrogens. They are called “male” or “female” sex hormones, as they lead to the development of body characteristics that are considered typically male, such as body hair growth or muscle growth, or typically female, such as the development of the breast or the female body fat distribution.
Everybody produces both types of hormones, no matter if they are male or female. It’s just the ratio that is different. But producing the other sex hormone is also key for a healthy, balanced body. The androgen testosterone is even needed to produce the female sex hormone estrogen.
Women produce androgens in their hormonal glands such as the ovaries, adrenal glands and other peripheral tissues such as fat cells. In case there are excess levels of androgens, a condition called hyperandrogenism can appear. This often comes with symptoms such as excess hair growth, acne and a deepening of the voice.
The Connection of High Androgen Levels and Hirsutism
Hirsutism is the medical term for a common disorder that can be very distressing, where excessive terminal (coarse) hair is developed in androgen dependent areas of a woman’s body, following a male-like pattern. If you are affected by this, you may have noticed an excessive hair growth in your upper lip, chin, chest, back or belly, besides an increase of the pigmentation and growth rate of the hair at your lower forearms and legs.
Hair follicles cover the entire body except for the soles of your feet, lips and palms of your hands. Your hair growth cycle is controlled by several hormones, although androgens are the primary determinant of the hair type and its distribution around the body.
This is the reason why excess androgen levels can lead to hirsutism, or excess hair growth: The androgens in your blood encourage your hair follicles to grow the terminal hairs, so thicker, darker hairs which are also more noticeable. Some areas are more sensitive to androgen stimulation, such as the chin, chest, back and pubic area.
Causes of Hirsutism
In most of the cases, hirsutism has an underlying condition that leads to the development of it. These conditions include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is the most common chronic hormonal condition in women. It can lead to symptoms such as irregular periods, weight gain, acne, hair loss, hirsutism, anxiety and depression. It may also make it more difficult to get pregnant and increases the risk for conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and endometrial cancer.
- Tumors. Although they are very uncommon, some tumors can develop in the ovaries or adrenal glands, which can then lead to the production of excess amounts of androgens.
- Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing’s syndrome occurs when your cortisol blood levels are higher than what they should be for a long period of time. This can lead to excess levels of androgens.
- Medications. There are also some medications that can cause hirsutism as a side effect, such as corticosteroids or anabolic steroids.
As you can see, Hirsutism can be caused by underlying conditions that can be quite serious. This is why it’s very important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor, as they can help you find treatment options for it.
Can You Lower Androgen Levels Naturally in Women?
Many women are looking for ways to lower their androgen levels naturally. As mentioned above, it is key that you get medical treatment to find out what the underlying cause of your excess androgen levels are, and get treatment for it. Natural methods can be looked into as a supplement to your treatment, but never instead of your treatment suggested by your doctor. And remember that before you start a new supplement, change your diet or lifestyle, to always discuss it with your doctor first.
Some of the natural ways on how you can support your treatment are:
1. Adjust your diet
Together with a dietitian, you can look into how to adjust your diet to make it more healthy and balanced. A lot of women believe that changing their diet into a more healthy one has helped them a lot with their hormone balance. So get in touch with a dietitian and together you can find out more about which foods can help you best to reach your balance!
Having a healthy and balanced diet can also affect your insulin levels, help with your weigh management, and also affect your mood and well-being!
Your dietitian might suggest tips such as:
- Reduce your sugar intake
Reducing your sugar and simple carbohydrate intake can have a large effect on your health, body and insulin level. This includes reducing your intake of white rice, pasta, white bread, desserts, soda, fast foods or processed foods. What can you eat instead? Here comes the second point:
- Add high-fiber foods into your diet
Foods that are high in fiber are an excellent source to keep your blood sugar levels balanced and add to the overall health of your body. Fresh fruits and vegetables will help you to achieve this step, as they have plenty of fiber within them. Also, you will be adding a healthy portion of carbohydrates, vitamins and nutrients into your daily intake.
Your dietitian will have a lot more tips to share, and will work with you to create a diet plan that works for you long-term and helps you achieve your goals!
2. Natural supplements
Many women are interested in natural supplements to lower their androgens, such as licorice and peony, zinc and spearmint tea. We have created a in-depth report about the supplements for Hirsutism and PCOS, so you can learn all about them!
Currently, spearmint tea has the most scientific evidence available, as for many other supplements there currently is little to no scientific evidence available to confirm their effect on Hirsutism or PCOS.
Remember, if you’re interested in starting a supplement, always make sure to discuss it with your doctor first, as some can interact with the medications you may be taking.
3. Lifestyle Changes
There are also a number of lifestyle changes that you can try:
- Welcome exercise to your life
It’s always a good idea to be active in your daily life, and to exercise in a way that is good for your body and mood. It may take some time to find an exercise you really enjoy, but we encourage you to keep active and work out, as well as try to get your 10’000 steps per day in!
- Cigarettes and alcohol are your enemies
Cigarettes and alcohol can have a negative effect on your hormonal system, and it’s best to remove them to make sure your body can get as healthy as possible!
- Stress reduction
Stress is correlated with a high cortisol production, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland. This can also affect your total hormone balance, so you will want to make sure to manage your stress levels carefully to keep your body healthy. Try to manage stress with a relaxation technique of your preference, such as yoga, meditation or even the writing of a diary about your thoughts while you spend time in nature. Remember that chronic stress bring issues not only for your physical well-being, but for your mental health.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese practice that many women believe in to improve their hormone balance. You can find out more about it in our in-depth article about traditional Chinese medicine, if you’re interested.
Having excess androgens can lead to symptoms such as excess hair growth, which can be very distressing. As many cases of androgen excess are connected to an underlying cause that can be quite serious, it is key to discuss those symptoms with your doctor. Once they have found the cause, they can treat it. You can then also use natural ways to support your treatment regimen. If you want to try out supplements, make sure to discuss them with your doctor first. You can also look into adjusting your diet together with a dietitian and work on stress reduction.