There is a growing number of women with soaring male hormones, and the serious consequences that come with that.
The disorder is more common in Australia that almost anywhere else in the world.
Unusual fits of rage, emotional slumps, and even physical changes are all symptoms that are too often brushed over as stress, or the side effects of a busy life.More stories from Today Tonight
In reality though, they are the signs of something else entirely. Australian women are suffering from a condition nicknamed ‘the beast within’.
Nurse and naturopath Sam Beau Patrick has seen a massive jump in women with high male hormone levels - dangerously high amounts of testosterone that are not injected, like some athletes, but produced by women themselves.
"Ladies are elevating their male hormones, which is basically testosterone," Beau Patrick said.
According to her the normal testosterone level for an average woman is meant to be at around 80 to 90.
"Just to put it into some perspective, a male’s levels of testosterone are 200 to 400. I have women regularly returning levels of 250 or 300. Even 150 for some ladies is just too much," Beau Patrick said.
"One lady had 400, and she was definitely starting to have facial hair. It was in a way that when you look at her physically, she looked like she was becoming a male."
Hollywood has often toyed with movies about attractive high-powered women battling it out with the men, and choosing to be tough to match it in a man's world.
But Beau Patrick believes up to four in every ten women have gone further than that. She thinks that almost five million women are being physically altered, and blames diet and executive stress in male-dominated workplaces for massive spurts of male testosterone.
So in a business sense, she believes that male executives are making women feel that if they want to get ahead, they’ve got to be more like blokes, and that's actually happening.
"Some women have reported to me that they have elongation of certain parts of their body, so certain bits are starting to morph into male bits," she said.
Hormones affect everything from height and weight, to mood and temper, and puberty to reproduction - just about everything in the human body relies on these messengers.
Testosterone, oestrogen, adrenalin and insulin all form a complex chain in each of us, delivered by eight glands.
Hormones are the body's messenger system - like an invisible chemical postman delivering mail to cells or receptors in the body, but when the mail goes to the wrong address (or too much piles up in one area) things can go haywire.
Debbie runs two health and beauty businesses from home, and the stress of making them work was driving her testosterone levels through the roof.
Katrina and husband Luke never thought they'd be able to have a baby. A tomboy all her life, Katrina’s testosterone levels were off the map.
"They said that I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, and that I had to do IVF, and that was about all the information that we were given. And even with IVF we were told that our chances were pretty slim, and I was quite a severe case, and that was that," she said.
"I was actually 350. I'll It was like I was being told something really quite dramatic at the time, because it was a really high number."
For Luke, hearing the results was also tough. "I was thinking ‘is she more male than me?’ once she got the results back."
Following a change of diet and some hormone therapy, Katrina is now a mum, and there have been other massive changes as well.
“I feel more like a girl, and I surprise myself - I watch movies and I cry, whereas before I used to laugh at other people who cried and think that they were kind of sissy. Now it seems to be me who looks away and doesn't want people to notice I'm tearing up a little bit,” Katrina said.
Gynecologist Dr Andrew Davidson has seen a massive increase in women with testosterone problems. Some so high, they can't have kids. But according to him there is hope.
"There's a complex group of hormones that are involved, and certainly your testosterone, progesterone and oestrogen are the key ones, but there are some others as well," he said.
He says it is curable. “I think if you see someone like a naturopath, or a general practitioner, you can definitely improve lifestyle factors, get onto a better diet, and possibly without medication, it will make a big difference."Contact details
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