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Old 11-02-2010, 05:54 PM   #1
Brittany Earl
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High Testosterone Levels

If you're reading this, hopefully you read my posts a couple of weeks back "Figure Competitor turned Cross Fitter," where I was looking for advice due to my 30 lb. weight gain in one month when I stopped training for Figure competitions but continued a very healthy, active lifestyle. I listened to a lot of the advice from many of you and have taken a nice rest (I took 3 weeks completely off, with just some easy yoga and walking, then I went back to CF twice last week, unfortunately tweaked my back, so I'm layed up again, but plan to continue twice a week as soon as I heal, for a while, to see how this easier schedule works for me with my stress levels, etc.)

In the meantime, I had mentioned that I was going to be doing some hormone testing. Well- the results are in. It was found that I actually don't have elevated cortisol levels, as I had originally thought. But I DO have elevated TESTOSTERONE levels. And they're high. This is what's explaining the excessive weight gain and why I have not had a menstrual cycle in months. It also explains acne on my arms and a few other symptoms which I've been experiencing.

From what I can gather, the heavy weight lifting and the diet of excessive amounts of animal protein and protein shakes for such a long time, during the three years I competed in Figure comps raised my testosterone levels. The stress that this weight gain put on me mentally did not and has not helped things.

I've been looking for information related to elevated testosterone levels in women and what one can do to balance her T-levels, but I can't really seem to find much. I have read three reoccuring messages through my searches: 1) improve your diet and exercise regimen (done), 2) herbal treatment/acupuncture (I've done lots of acupuncture, but maybe I'll go back now that I can tell him specifically what is wrong, and maybe ask for herbal supplements?), and 3) hormone replacement therapy (which is laden with dangerous side effects and I don't want to go this route).

Finally, they say stress management is a big one. I'm working on that part too, and am getting better.

I'd love any information regarding high Testosterone levels in women that you may have on hand. It's pretty critical that I get my hormone levels back to normal, because at some point, I'd like to start a family! I'm scared!!!! I'm thankful that I finally have some information to go off of. I wonder why my medical doctors didn't seem to care about testing testosterone in me earlier in my journey, back when I was first dealing with this.
Hmmmmm...
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:17 PM   #2
Emily Mattes
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

I've never heard of heavy lifting and protein shakes causing abnormally high testosterone levels in women . . . Those things are the result of testosterone, not the cause of it. Did your doctor suggest this?

However, weight gain, amenorrhea, high testosterone, acne, and all of those symptoms are tied to polycystic ovary syndrome/PCOS. Did any doctors evaluate you for these things?

Honestly, if weight training and protein shakes caused abnormally high testosterone, there would be a lot more research out on it now as women have been weightlifting for quite a while.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:23 PM   #3
Brent Sallee
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

This is one situation that advice on the CF forum is completely inappropriate. You need to see a medical doctor, more specifically a women's health doctor that could help you or refer you to a specialist. And for your knowledge, testosterone is a cholesterol derivative, which cannot be synthesized from protein/amino acids so protein shakes weren't your downfall. Cholesterol can be synthesized from fats, but even if you eat significant amounts of fat, it doesn't increase testosterone THAT much. In all honesty, you should get this checked out because hormonal levels can indicate some form of pathology. I would also suggest you get some form of CBC or lipid panel run. Typically, high levels of estrogen (and low testosterone) in women reduces cardiovascular risk. However, if you have higher testosterone levels, lower estrogen, and high cholesterol, you may be in a higher risk group. Really, you need to go to an MD for this.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:24 PM   #4
Brent Sallee
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

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Originally Posted by Emily Mattes View Post
I've never heard of heavy lifting and protein shakes causing abnormally high testosterone levels in women . . . Those things are the result of testosterone, not the cause of it. Did your doctor suggest this?

However, weight gain, amenorrhea, high testosterone, acne, and all of those symptoms are tied to polycystic ovary syndrome/PCOS. Did any doctors evaluate you for these things?

Honestly, if weight training and protein shakes caused abnormally high testosterone, there would be a lot more research out on it now as women have been weightlifting for quite a while.
Exactly. This is not something to take lightly as a dietary result. It likely isn't. It sounds like something suspicious so she definitely needs to get it checked otu.
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:46 PM   #5
Lincoln Brigham
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

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From what I can gather, the heavy weight lifting and the diet of excessive amounts of animal protein and protein shakes for such a long time, during the three years I competed in Figure comps raised my testosterone levels.
Me and a couple million other guys wish it were that easy.

There is very little evidence to show that large amounts of protein have a positive effect on testosterone levels. One oft-cited study in fact showed a decrease in T levels. Lifting heavy weights has not been shown to be a dramatic producer of testerone either.
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:06 PM   #6
Thomas Green
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

It can vary tremendously from lab to lab. I've been as low as 380 ng/DL and as high as 900. I wouldn't worry about it too much, but would definitely go in for a retest.

Last edited by Thomas Green : 11-02-2010 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:17 PM   #7
Thomas Green
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

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Originally Posted by Brent Sallee View Post
This is one situation that advice on the CF forum is completely inappropriate. You need to see a medical doctor, more specifically a women's health doctor that could help you or refer you to a specialist. And for your knowledge, testosterone is a cholesterol derivative, which cannot be synthesized from protein/amino acids so protein shakes weren't your downfall. Cholesterol can be synthesized from fats, but even if you eat significant amounts of fat, it doesn't increase testosterone THAT much. In all honesty, you should get this checked out because hormonal levels can indicate some form of pathology. I would also suggest you get some form of CBC or lipid panel run. Typically, high levels of estrogen (and low testosterone) in women reduces cardiovascular risk. However, if you have higher testosterone levels, lower estrogen, and high cholesterol, you may be in a higher risk group. Really, you need to go to an MD for this.

Good point, agree
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:34 PM   #8
Brittany Earl
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

I do agree that lots of lifting and protein shakes will not cause high levels of Testosterone. But, when I was competing, let me just say, it was EXCESSIVE. My diet was extreme. As figure competitors, we follow this pattern, which is to diet harder and harder and do more and more cardio until we're down to very very low body fat percentages (8-10%). My downfall is that I never stopped dieting, even in my off season, and for three years I continued to cut calories sooo low (~900 on some days) and to do more cardio (up to 3 hrs. on some days). This continued until I just plateaud (obvious to me NOW!) But then as soon as I upped my calories to a healthy amount and started doing normal training, that's when all these symptoms came about. I totally know that this regimen was not smart nor healthy for my body. It was what I did to compete, but I'm never going back to that again... Now it's just dealing with the aftermath.

The thing is, I've had all the blood work done. I've been to numerous doctors and had tons of tests. One doctor did tell me I had symptoms of PCOS, but not to worry, I'm fine because I eat healthy and work out. No doctor every alerted me to high Test. levels! Long story short, I've felt that my MDs have left me with very little to go off of, but finally, after over a year of dealing with these symptoms (which has been very difficult and heartbreaking for me at times), I've finally found a holistic practicioner who has taken me into his practice and done the saliva testing on me, etc. This is where I got the results about the testosterone levels being high. He still needs to meet with me to discuss more in detail what to do from here. But I had just thought I'd get the advice of the forum.... THanks for your input.
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:05 PM   #9
Frank E Morel
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

fatten yourself up a bit and your estrogen levels will start to ramp up a bit and your test levels will change downwards. Women require double digit bodyfat for estrogen production. best example of this the pelvic fat that occurs when women start to go menopausal... its the body's last ditch effort to keep making estrogen since the ovaries are dwindling.

Consider seeing a second or third gyn to rule pcos and rule ovarian cancer. Those are the biggest culprits for unexplainable rises opposed to self induced going too lean efforts. by chance the md you saw, were they kaiser?
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:07 PM   #10
Brent Sallee
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

Saliva testing? What? Did you get blood results that showed you had high levels of testosterone? If the holistic practitioner is the first to tell you about this, I doubt it's due to his test being wholeheartedly correct. Go get a blood test of your hormone levels. If it's not high there, you are fine. Saliva tests, depending on the brand, lab, and conditions under which it were taken, are not necessarily the most accurate (especially if he's using cheap tests).
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