Q. My doctor told me that my testosterone levels were very high. I didn’t even know women had testosterone; I thought it was a male hormone. What do my high levels mean, and could it be the reason I haven't been able to get pregnant?
A. Women do in fact secrete testosterone, mostly from their ovaries, but they produce a much smaller amount of the hormone than men do. Also, there’s a protein in a woman’s bloodstream that binds with the testosterone and prevents it from being active. Women who have high testosterone levels often have symptoms such as acne and increased hair on the face, chest, abdomen, or thighs. In extreme cases, women can even develop male pattern baldness, deepening of the voice, and clitoral enlargement. A high testosterone level in women is most commonly associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition which often stops ovulation, making a woman (at least temporarily) infertile. Fortunately, there are new and effective treatments for PCOS, such as insulin sensitizing agents. And ovulatory drugs such as clomiphene, aromatase inhibitors, and gonadotropins can help the vast majority of women with PCOS to become pregnant.