High testosterone levels can cause problems in males, such as an enlarged prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). They can result from some medical conditions and the use of medications or anabolic steroids.

In males, testosterone functions include the regulation of libido, bone and muscle mass, and the production of sperm. Females also have some testosterone, but less. In females, testosterone assists in the growth and maintenance of female reproductive tissue and bone mass.

Testosterone is essential for health, but too much may increase the risk of health problems, such as an enlarged prostate gland.

In this article, we discuss the signs of high testosterone, also called hyperandrogenism, in males.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Image credit: Getty images/Ababsolutum.

Testosterone is a hormone. It is produced in the testes in people assigned male sex at birth and in the ovaries in people assigned female sex at birth. Additionally, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a precursor to testosterone is produced in the adrenal glands.

People can also take testosterone synthetically as medication. The effects of high testosterone levels will usually only be apparent with synthetic sources.

A 2017 study involving more than 9,000 men living in Europe and the United States found that the total testosterone range for males aged 19–39 years is 264–916 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). Levels above this are considered high.

The American Urological Association considers 450—600 ng/dl to be a normal range.

High levels of synthetic testosterone may lead to:

  • hepatic adenoma, a tumor on the liver
  • cholestatic jaundice
  • BPH

The authors of a 2021 study noted that males with high levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) — a substance that works with testosterone — may have a higher chance of acne and hair loss. However, they did not link this effect directly to high testosterone levels.

Testosterone may also play a role in the development of prostate cancer. Experts note that testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, but it can help fuel it once it appears. Reducing testosterone levels may help lower the risk of it returning or progressing. There may be a link with testosterone replacement therapy and the development of prostate cancer.

Men with very high testosterone levels may experience:

High testosterone levels can be a sign of an underlying health condition that increases levels of circulating testosterone on the body.

Factors that can raise testosterone levels include:

Athletes and bodybuilders sometimes use anabolic steroids to improve athletic performance and build muscle mass. Testosterone replacement therapy can treat low testosterone levels.

What causes high testosterone in females, and what are the symptoms?

Doctors typically use the following procedures to diagnose high testosterone in males:

A physical examination

A doctor may check for signs and symptoms of high testosterone, including acne and increased muscle mass. They will also ask about a person’s libido and mood.

Blood tests

A doctor may order blood tests to check the person’s testosterone hormone levels. They may also check their glucose and cholesterol, as testosterone levels can affect them.

As testosterone secretion is typically highest in the early morning hours, the doctor will often draw blood for the tests in the morning.

The type of treatment for high testosterone will depend on the underlying cause of the imbalance.

Stopping steroid or medication use

Where high testosterone levels result from anabolic steroid use or testosterone supplementation, discontinuing these substances will usually resolve the issue.

In one study, 88.4% of the male participants taking testosterone supplements did not produce sperm. However, 6 months after stopping the use of the supplements, 65% of these individuals began to produce sperm again.

Treatment for tumors

In rare cases, a tumor can produce sex hormones, which can increase the levels of testosterone. If a tumor is contributing to high testosterone levels, the person may need surgery.

If the tumor is cancerous, the person may need other treatments, including:

Medication

Medications can help lower high testosterone levels for people with underlying conditions.

They include:

Anyone who experiences symptoms while using testosterone replacement therapy should speak with a doctor. People who are using testosterone replacement therapy will usually have regular appointments, as the doctor will need to monitor their progress.

Individuals who believe they may have high testosterone levels should talk with a doctor. They may need treatment to address an underlying health issue or reduce the risk of complications such as liver problems and osteoporosis.

Here are some questions people often ask about high testosterone in males.

What happens when a man’s testosterone levels are too high?

High testosterone levels are known as hyperandrogenism. In adults, there are few noticeable signs. But, there may be a risk of complications such as a liver tumor, jaundice, and an enlarged prostate gland.

What happens when a man’s testosterone levels are too low?

Low testosterone levels are known as hypogonadism. An adult male with low testosterone levels may have:

As men get older, testosterone levels tend to fall, which may lead to these symptoms.

How can exercise help build muscle mass?

What is a normal testosterone level in an adult male?

The American Urological Association considers a normal range to be 450—600 ng/dL. If levels fall below 300 ng/dl, a doctor may diagnose a deficiency and prescribe testosterone replacement therapy.

Levels vary by age groups and can fluctuate throughout the day. The most accurate readings will be in the early morning.

Is there such a thing as the male menopause?

High testosterone in males can cause a variety of symptoms, including excessive facial and body hair, aggression, and infertility.

In males, high testosterone is most frequently due to anabolic steroid use or testosterone supplementation.

People who show symptoms associated with high testosterone should see their doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Untreated high testosterone levels can raise the risk of infertility, cancer, and other problems.