What Does Dihydrotestosterone Do?

Dihydrotestosterone is a hormone with powerful androgenic properties. This important hormone plays a role in puberty and helps men develop their adult male characteristics.

What Is Dihydrotestosterone?

Dihydrotestosterone is an androgen, which means it is a hormone that triggers the development of male characteristics. The hormone is created when testosterone is converted into a new form, dihydrotestosterone. About 10 percent of the testosterone in the bodies of both men and women is converted into dihydrotestosterone in adults — with a much higher amount in puberty. This may be why it is so closely related to the triggering of puberty. The dihydrotestosterone hormone is much more powerful than testosterone.

How Does Dihydrotestosterone Work?

Dihydrotestosterone initiates the start of puberty in boys. It causes the genitals to develop and can cause the growth of pubic and body hair. It also causes the prostate to grow during puberty and may work together with testosterone to begin the expression of sexual desires and behavior.

Women also have dihydrotestosterone, but its role in their bodies is not as well known. Some research has shown that it can lead to pubic hair growth after puberty in girls. It may also play a role in determining when puberty will start for a girl.

Problems Connected with Dihydrotestosterone

Sometimes both men and women can struggle with high levels of dihydrotestosterone, which stems from excess testosterone production. In men, high levels cause few identifiable changes. However, women who have high dihydrotestosterone levels may have issues with body and facial hair. They may also struggle with adult acne and menstruation. A dihydrotestosterone inhibitor may be able to help restore natural levels of the dihydrotestosterone hormone.

On the other hand, women suffer fewer effects than men if they have low dihydrotestosterone levels. Because dihydrotestosterone function is so closely related to male characteristics, low levels may cause a male going through puberty to fail to develop normal body hair growth or genital development. If a baby boy is exposed to too little dihydrotestosterone in the womb, he may be born with misshapen genitalia that resemble female genitalia.

Questions for Your Doctor about Dihydrotestosterone

If you feel that your dihydrotestosterone levels may be off, consider asking your doctor:

  • Should we test my dihydrotestosterone or testosterone levels?
  • Could dihydrotestosterone be impacting my health?
  • Is there any treatment that can help my dihydrotestosterone levels return to normal?

Be sure that you are discussing these needs with a qualified endocrinologist. Find an endocrinologist near you today.