When most people think of testosterone, they think of a male sex hormone. And they aren’t wrong.
In men, testosterone is the main sex hormone that causes many of the stereotypical male physical features, such as increased facial and body hair, lower voice, development of Adam’s apple, and increased muscle mass and strength. It also plays important role in the development of the reproductive organs, sperm maturation, and sex drive.
But women also produce testosterone.
In women, testosterone is made by both the ovaries and adrenal glands, and by converting other hormones into testosterone. And although levels in women are 10-20 times lower than in men, testosterone still plays a very important role in female health.
Testosterone is important for sex drive in females. Plus, testosterone gets converted into estrogen, which is important for bone health and strength.
Testosterone levels in women change over time.
In women, testosterone blood levels are at their highest during the ages 10-20 years, then gradually decline over time towards menopause, when they are about one-quarter of peak levels.
After the age of 65-70 years, testosterone levels in women start to climb, reaching similar levels to those seen at younger ages.
Lower testosterone levels in women can also be caused by the use of the oral contraceptive pill, oral steroid therapy, medications that block testosterone action (for example, treatments for acne or hirsutism), and some pituitary conditions.
What are the consequences of low testosterone in women?
One of the main challenges to answering this question is the lack of a cut-off or threshold that can be used to define or “diagnose” low testosterone in women.
Nonetheless, studies have found that some women who have lower testosterone also experience low libido, or decreased sex drive. However, this is not found in all studies.
For some women, a decreased sex drive can become a source of distress. They can feel a changing sense of sexuality and sense of self, and an overall decreased satisfaction with their life.
Recurrent or returning low sexual desire associated with distress has been termed ‘Hypoactive Sexual Desire Dysfunction/Disorder’ (HSDD).
There are many reasons why women may experience hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Seeing your doctor (GP) about this can lead to identifying the cause and finding the best treatment strategy for you.
Can testosterone therapy help?
In order to answer this question, the International Menopause Society brought together international experts from nine leading medical organizations.
These experts reviewed and discussed evidence from studies conducted around the world, including a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials in testosterone therapy for women.
They found that testosterone therapy can be effective for postmenopausal women with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Dysfunction for improving sexual wellbeing. The benefits included improved sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, and pleasure, together with reduced concerns and distress about sex.
Typical Testosterone Levels in Adults
|Age||Male (in ng/dl)||Female (in ng/dl)|
|17 to 18 years||300-1,200||20-75|
|19 years and older||240-950||8-60|
However, they also found there is no evidence that testosterone therapy could improve wellbeing or mood, and advise that it should not be used solely for this purpose.
These findings were published in a Global Position Statement.
While this Statement provides a greater understanding of when and how testosterone can be prescribed for women, experts consider each woman needs a full clinical assessment, and other factors affecting Hypoactive Sexual Desire Dysfunction need to be identified and addressed before testosterone therapy is initiated.
If there are any additional questions you may have concerning testosterone or other therapies from a list of our services, be sure to contact us now.