Testosterone Therapy For Women
After being put on testosterone replacement therapy women felt an increase in mood, better sex drive, and had higher levels of overall well-being.
Low testosterone in women is a real condition that can be just as physically debilitating as in men. While not often publicized, it is far more common than you probably expect.
Women’s bodies have 3 major sex hormones. The primary focus when dealing with women’s hormone health and hormone imbalance has always been on the 2 “female” hormones: Estrogen and progesterone.
Testosterone is often ignored or overlooked, and female low testosterone is often misdiagnosed.
Women Have Testosterone?
The short answer is yes.
Just like men, women have testosterone in their bodies at all ages (not just during childhood or puberty), but the levels are roughly 1/10 the level that is considered normal for men.
A woman’s body needs testosterone to function properly, regulate certain systems, and remain healthy. That means when a woman’s body fails to produce a sufficient amount, she suffers from low testosterone.
Unpleasant symptoms result as these systems fail to function properly.
However, long-term health isn’t actually about testosterone by itself, or the levels of any single hormone — it’s about low levels of testosterone in proportion to your other hormones.
If any of these hormone levels get out of sync with the others, you’ll likely develop one or more of the common symptoms of hormone imbalance.
What Causes Low Testosterone in Women?
The short answer is that there are many possible causes.
The causes of low testosterone in women haven’t been studied nearly as much as in men, but researchers have found a number of causes in women, including:
- Getting older: Most women’s testosterone levels decrease naturally from an early age
- Oophorectomy: Ovary removal can reduce testosterone levels in women
- Ovarian failure due to chemotherapy drugs or other drugs: Also known as chemical oophorectomy, any substance that affects your ovaries can decrease testosterone levels
- Estrogen therapy: Estrogen suppresses production of the hormone responsible for stimulating testosterone production — this includes birth control
- Hypothalamic amenorrhoea: Cessation of menstrual periods in a woman before menopause; possible causes could include stress, extreme weight loss, or extreme exercise
- Early menopause (before the age of 40): Also known as premature ovarian failure
- Adrenal gland issues: Also known as adrenal insufficiency
- Pituitary gland issues: Hypopituitarism of hyperprolactinemia
Some research suggests a genetic abnormality that complicates the natural production of DHEA and DHEA-S, which are used to form testosterone in women’s bodies, as a possible cause.
Another possibility is that the catalytic enzymes needed to convert these precursors (DHEA and DHEA-S) into usable testosterone may be insufficient.
The Causes of Female Low Testosterone Are Not Well Understood
The source of low testosterone in women is not well understood because there are so many possible causes, and its symptoms look so much like the symptoms of other hormone imbalances, including low estrogen.
It’s logical to blame other hormones initially, like estrogen or progesterone, because the symptoms that come with being deficient in any of these hormones look quite similar.
In fact, it’s not often the case that just one hormone has become unbalanced, but that several of them exist in an overall state of imbalance.
Symptoms indicating hormone fluctuation at the onset of the menopausal cycle also appear similar. In particular, low libido or low sex drive has traditionally been attributed to low estrogen caused by the beginnings of menopause.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, low testosterone in women is often simply written off as the less attractive aspects of growing old — weight gain, difficulty losing weight, and hair loss are more frequent with age.
Hormone production changes as we age, resulting in some physical changes, but the imbalance is not something that simply has to be accepted.
Most of these underlying causes are related to ovarian function, and medical providers sometimes misdiagnose women as having high testosterone, when, in fact, it is low. It will likely require blood testing to identify the source of the problem and determine the proper corrective treatment.
I Might Have Low T — What Do I Do Next?
If you think there’s a possibility that you have low testosterone, you need to see a medical professional to be sure.
A simple blood test can determine where exactly your levels lie, which is the first step in determining whether you need Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).
Recovering from female low testosterone means becoming the woman you’re supposed to be right now — before illness, stress, injuries, surgeries, medications, and behaviors that damage testosterone production crept in and altered your hormone balance.
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.
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.
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