Old Lady Deep Voice Syndrome

Sometimes older ladies get this deep, man-like voice:

Lucille Ball, Bea Arthur, Marianne Faithful.

What’s the name of this syndrome?

Bea Arthur had a deep voice when she was young. Well, Bea Arthur was never “young,” but younger.

Lucy? Cigarettes.

aren’t most cases of deep old lady voice due to cigarettes?

Years of smoking, drinking rough liquor and screaming at the kids 'If I have to tell you ONE MORE TIME to turn down the music, I’m going to come right over there and slap you silly ’ takes it’s toll on the female vocal chords.

(I also believe that loss of oestregen post-menopause might have something to do with it, but can’t provide a cite. Sorry.)

There was a scene in the movie Dead Again where a grumpy old lady started talking in a high-pitched little girl voice while under hypnosis. The movies acknowledge the phenomenon, but of course that does nothing at all to answer your question.

Not to worry. Historically, better than 90 percent of all responses in GQ fail to answer the OP question.

So long as we’re just hanging out waiting for the definitive answer, I’d like to offer my favorire examples of OLVS (Old Lady Voice Syndrome): Suzanne Pleshette (have you heard her lately?), Patricia Neal, and Kate Mulgrew, whose voice is already deeper than Patrick Stewart’s.

And then there’s Tina Turner, whose voice not only got deeper, but turned Jamaican, mon!

Bea Arthur was a smoker as well. She died from lung cancer.

Is it estrogen related?

Somet old hens will begin to crow and exhibit other male behaviors as their estrogen levels fall and background levels of testosterone begin to have behavioral effects.

The only cite I could come up with on the fly is in German, but if you scroll down you’ll find some English source books.

Thisconclusion from the 2003’s annual meeting of DGPP (German Society for Phoniatrie and Pedaudiology) states that a deepening of the female voice is a common (but not necessary) climacteric symptom mainly because (medical layperson’s translation):

*"It’s known that the female voice is very sensitive to sex hormone levels.snip The premenstrual syndrom is an eloquent example. A sensitivity of the larynx to hormons, whose basis are sex hormone receptors on the phonationsorgan (sorry, all translators came up blank) has been proven. Thus leading to a lowering of the voice’s base frequency, a loss of the voice’s lightness and a faster fatigue. snip

An impact on vocal quality is to be expectet due to a change in sex hormone levels during menopause as well.

Since androgens, which also have some vocal mulation potency, increase during climacteric in relativity towards estrogen levels, hirustism as well as a lowering of the voice’s base frequency, hoarseness and raspyness and loss of high tonal registers may occur because of an increase in the resonance chamber under the androgens’ influence. An important fact in this regard seems that, because of androgen induced proliferation of mucous membranes, the movements of the vocal cords are slowed down, which may lead to voice modification."*

Sorry for all the portmanteaus, but if you combine the above with maybe smoking, liquor and using your voice as an instrument you can see where these deep voices come from, especially if these ladies had low voices to begin with. Might work as well with hens:)

Aaand I’m hearing some very hoarse shouts of “hmmm, braiiins!” right now from the street…

For Marianne Faithful

(From her Wiki article)

Yep, I was going to say smoking (and maybe drinking) are strong suspects.

We for a long time had a hospital operator who also paged docs overhead, in a voice that sounded like a 100 pack-year unfiltered Camel habit.

She apparently retired, or at least that’s what I hope it was.