Testosterone is important for sex drive in women and it gets converted into estrogen, which is important for bone health and strength.
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 well-being or mood, and advised 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.
Immediate Benefits of Testosterone Therapy for Women
By supporting the underlying infrastructure of your body, testosterone therapy for women has the ability to deliver immediate benefits. Many of our female patients report experiencing a revitalization in as little as 24 hours!
Skin and Hair
Optimized testosterone levels have the power to improve the quality of your skin and hair.
The body’s natural collagen synthesis diminishes with age, leaving wrinkles and sagging skin in its place. Testosterone therapy helps to counteract this effect by supporting the “behind the scenes” functions the body needs to efficiently produce collagen.
As a result, you may find that testosterone therapy reduces the appearance of wrinkles and helps your skin look bright and youthful.
Similarly, testosterone therapy for women can improve hair regrowth by thickening hair at the follicle to prevent it from falling out. Testosterone and thyroid hormones work in concert to stimulate hair growth from existing hair follicles that have been unresponsive in the past.
Keep in mind that this won’t make you hairy like a gorilla; testosterone therapy can’t create new hair follicles or make you what you’re not. Instead, testosterone therapy makes you more of what you are and what you used to be!
The only exception occurs in women who have androgenetic alopecia, a genetic condition that makes the hair follicles sensitive to androgens like testosterone. If you have this androgen-sensitive condition, you may need to work with a doctor to find a medication that blocks androgens from having a toxic effect on your hair follicles.
Mood and Energy
Do you wake up feeling like you just don’t have enough energy in the tank to push through your day? Are you moody, verging on depression, and generally “blue”? These issues aren’t just in your head or meant to be solved by an antidepressant.
Instead, they may be the symptoms of testosterone deficiency.
Balancing your testosterone levels with bioidentical hormone therapy quickly lifts the veil of brain fog, depression, and fatigue. You suddenly remember what it’s like to embrace your life with passion and vitality instead of just treading water.
The Role of Testosterone in Menopause
From the time that they hit puberty until they approach menopause, women experience the same steady hormone production. It isn’t until the earliest stages of menopause, known as perimenopause, that a woman’s hormone levels begin to fluctuate.
Perimenopausal women can enjoy all the benefits of testosterone therapy. From energy stamina and fat burning to libido and skin health, customized testosterone therapy delivers benefits that help perimenopausal women overcome the signs that their ovaries are slowly shutting down.
Testosterone therapy is equally as valuable for post-menopausal women whose ovaries have completely shut down. In fact, the benefits are even more pronounced because testosterone helps the body restore hormonal balance.
There are just a few times when testosterone therapy isn’t the best solution, including for women who are pregnant, could become pregnant, or aren’t done having children.
Other Major Benefits of Testosterone Therapy
Aside from the immediate benefits of enhanced skin, hair, mood, and energy, testosterone therapy for women also play a vital role in overall health and longevity.
Connection Between Insulin and Testosterone
The Holy Grail of health is having optimal blood sugar levels. Biochemically, the hormone insulin is the body’s best mechanism to lower and normalize blood sugar.
In an ideal situation, insulin arrives in response to high blood sugar and quickly normalizes blood sugar by transporting glucose as energy to cells throughout the body.
However, when our eating habits continually keep our blood sugar levels elevated, more and more insulin pumps into our system in response. Over time, the body begins to ignore insulin and create dangerous insulin resistance that leads to chronically elevated blood sugars and diabetes.
Finding mechanisms to help the body become more sensitive to insulin is critical to preventing disease. Testosterone therapy is one such mechanism! It helps women become more insulin sensitive by creating muscle cells that are hyper-responsive to insulin in the presence of glucose.
Once you take control of your blood sugar, everything else is possible!
Testosterone and Osteoporosis
The link between testosterone and osteoporosis is one of the most underrated connections in the human body.
Nearly 80% of adults with osteoporosis in America are women. This condition is far more serious than most people realize. The likelihood of a woman breaking her hip is as high as her risk of ovarian, uterine, and breast cancer combined!
So why aren’t we talking more about osteoporosis and its potential treatment using hormone replacement therapy?
In its simplest form, osteoporosis is a condition of brittle bones. If you have osteoporosis, your bones have lost critical mass and density, leaving you vulnerable to fractures and breaks. Imagine a home with a weak foundation and cracking frame. That’s the effect of osteoporosis on your body.
Women need to keep their infrastructure as strong as possible. Exercise, sun exposure, vitamin D, strength training, calcium, and even estrogen all improve bone health, but testosterone and osteoporosis share a special link.
Testosterone replacement therapy is a powerful and untapped osteoporosis treatment. Research suggests that testosterone supports bone cells and skeletal growth, possibly beyond the effects of estrogen alone.
This means testosterone therapy offers important long-term bone health benefits for women as they age!
The Role of Testosterone Therapy and Sex Drive
Testosterone is widely associated with male sex drive, but it influences female libido as well!
Female patients with low libido are upset about the stress placed on their relationships by a lack of intimacy, but they don’t know how to recapture their desire. Testosterone therapy quickly turns this issue around by restoring the hormones that enable sexual desire.
Protecting against Heart Disease
Cardiovascular disease isn’t just the number one killer of human beings. It’s the leading cause of death in women. Heart disease used to be seen as the disease of 60-year-old smoking men, but that’s a dangerous misconception.
As a woman, you need to reduce your risk of heart disease to live a long and vibrant life. Research proves that balancing hormones with testosterone therapy can protect themselves against cardiovascular risk factors.
Why is testosterone such a powerful force against heart disease? Experts say that testosterone creates a snowball effect of momentum by restoring insulin sensitivity, lean mass, strong bones, and high energy levels. When you have a strong core, plenty of energy, and balanced blood sugar levels, your body is better prepared to overcome any threats to longevity.
Who is testosterone therapy not for?
We’d be irresponsible not to discuss the groups of women who need to avoid testosterone therapy or carefully discuss hormone replacement therapy with their doctors before proceeding.
Women in the following categories should not receive testosterone therapy at all:
- pregnant – testosterone is toxic to the fetus;
- planning to get pregnant soon – testosterone can cause severe birth defects;
- currently breastfeeding – testosterone may suppress lactation;
- treating active cancer – all of your energy and resources need to focus on eliminating cancer from your body.
There are also gray areas that require deep discussion before committing to testosterone therapy. Most importantly, the gray area of having a family history of an inheritable, hormone-sensitive cancer.
Don’t cannonball right into the pool; wait to understand your risk profile and discuss the potential risks and benefits with the professionals best equipped to determine the impact of testosterone therapy on your health.
As long as you are thoughtful about testosterone therapy, account for all potential downsides, and understand your path forward, you can experience the benefits. Life is all about mitigating risks and maximizing the upside!
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.