Testosterone is a hormone that is also known as an androgen. While it’s often thought of as being a ‘male’ hormone, since it’s the hormone that gives men deep voices, bigger muscles, and facial hair, women also have testosterone in their bodies. An imbalance of either too much or too little testosterone can actually have an effect on a woman’s overall health and wellbeing. In females, testosterone serves many functions, including producing new blood cells, influencing follicle-stimulating hormones that can affect reproductive health, and enhancing the libido or sex drive.
According to experts, testosterone production in women is typically dependent on age. By the time a woman has reached forty years old, her androgens levels will have usually decreased by 50%. Doctors and scientists are still conducting research on the effects of low testosterone in women and potential treatments for low testosterone.
Low Testosterone in Women: Symptoms and Signs
Low testosterone in women is often characterized by a number of signs and symptoms which include a lower sexual desire, lower sexual satisfaction, tiredness, weak muscles, and depressed mood. Often, these symptoms of low testosterone in women are incorrectly diagnosed since some of the conditions that a drop in testosterone can lead to are easily mistaken for depression, stress, anxiety, or the side effects of menopausal changes.
A blood test can be given in order to test a woman’s testosterone levels, but whether the results come back as high or low can often vary depending on the laboratory that performs the test. And, determining low levels of testosterone in women is not always an easy process since their hormone levels are subject to constant, daily fluctuation. Ideally, the best time to have a blood test taken for low testosterone is 8-20 days before a woman’s menstrual period begins, if she still has a period.
What Causes Low Testosterone in Women?
Women produce testosterone in several areas of their body, including the adrenal glands, peripheral tissues, and the ovaries. Since the ovaries are one of the biggest producers of testosterone in a woman’s body, the drop in hormones produced here when menopause begins means that some pre- and post-menopausal women may experience a low level of testosterone. Traditionally, the loss of libido that many women experience around this time have been put down to post-menopausal estrogen production decreasing, however, researchers are identifying increasing links between lower testosterone production and a drop in libido.
Some other possible causes of low testosterone in women include:
- Surgical removal of the ovaries
- Oral estrogen therapy, since estrogen can reduce testosterone production
- Early menopause
- Adrenal insufficiency
Can Low Testosterone in Women Be Treated?
While treatments for low testosterone in women have not been largely studied, there are some options available. Doctors do not currently know a great deal about the symptoms of low testosterone in women, compared to what is known about the symptoms of excess testosterone in the female body. A medication called Estratest might be prescribed to post-menopausal women, which contains both estrogen and testosterone. However, this medication contains a synthetic form of testosterone, which may not be very effective for treating low levels.
Some women may also obtain testosterone supplements, like these from TestoGen.com. These testosterone supplements are all-natural and work quickly to boost energy levels in women along with improving muscle building and other fitness goals that a woman might have. However, it’s important to bear in mind that these supplements are typically designed for men who tend to have far higher average testosterone levels in comparison with women, so it’s important to get the correct dosage.
Women might also consider taking a DHEA supplement; DHEA is a precursor to testosterone so taking it could help to increase the amount of this hormone in their body.
It’s a wise idea to speak to your doctor before taking any supplements for low testosterone.
High Testosterone in Women: Signs and Symptoms:
On the other hand, too much testosterone in women can also lead to undesirable symptoms. Whether a woman is naturally producing too much testosterone or taking a too-large dose of a testosterone supplement, it can lead to symptoms that affect her physical appearance including excess body and facial hair, acne, balding, decreased breast size, increased muscle mass, a deeper voice and enlargement of the clitoris. Overly high testosterone levels in women can also lead to changes in mood, a low libido, and irregular menstrual cycles. When the testosterone imbalance is severe, it can cause obesity and infertility.
If you notice any of the above symptoms and are not taking any testosterone supplements, you should talk to your doctor. The doctor will first perform a physical examination and look for symptoms such as excess body hair, acne, and abnormal facial hair in order to determine whether or not extra testing will be required. This test will measure hormone levels in your blood and is typically performed in the morning when your testosterone levels are at their highest. You may be asked to stop taking any prescriptions that could have an impact on the test results.
What Causes High Testosterone in Women:
High testosterone in women could be caused by something as simple as taking a testosterone supplement dose that is too high, but there are various hormonal disorders and health conditions that can lead to hormonal changes in women and raised testosterone levels. These include:
This hormonal condition affects women by causing the growth of unwanted body hair, usually on the face, back, and chest. The amount of hair growth will vary depending on genetics, but this condition is primarily caused by an imbalance in androgen hormones.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS):
PCOS is another hormonal disorder that is caused by an imbalance of androgen hormones in women. PCOS can lead to prolonged or irregular periods, unwanted growth of body hair, and enlarged ovaries that may not function correctly. Infertility, miscarriage, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and endometrial cancer are further common complications experienced by women who have PCOS.
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH):
CAH is a disorder that has a direct effect on the adrenal glands and the production of hormones in the body. In a lot of CAH cases, the body produces too much androgen, which leads to common symptoms that include masculine characteristics, early development of pubic hair, severe acne, and infertility.
How is High Testosterone in Women Treated?
There are various treatments available for high testosterone in women, which will depend on the cause. Generally, it will involve changes in a women’s lifestyle or any medications that she is taking. For example, in mild cases, simply reducing the dose of a testosterone supplement might be effective in eliminating symptoms while still allowing her to enjoy the benefits of taking the supplement. There is also a range of medications that can be used to treat high testosterone, including oral contraceptives, metformin, glucocorticosteroids, and spironolactone.
Oral contraceptives such as the combined pills are an effective treatment for blocking the production of testosterone since they increase the amount of estrogen in the body, however, this treatment method might not be ideal for a woman who is planning to get pregnant soon. Low-dose birth control pills that contain low levels of desogestrel, gestodene, and norgestimate are the best options for lowering testosterone. You can get these medications on prescription from your doctor or OBGYN.
There are also certain lifestyle changes that a woman can make in order to affect her testosterone levels. An exercise or weight loss program can be useful since losing weight can help to improve symptoms. Some women may be able to treat or manage their symptoms, such as shaving or bleaching excess body hair or using facial cleansers for acne.
Are Testosterone Supplements Safe for Women?
The big question – is taking testosterone supplements safe for you if you are a woman? You may be excited to reap the benefits like increased energy, better sex drive, and better results from your workouts, but many women understandably worry that taking testosterone supplements will lead to masculine traits, but the good news is that this is rarely the case. If you experience any unwanted symptoms like face or body hair growth, these side effects can easily be dealt with by simply lowering the dose.
There’s a growing recognition of the benefits of testosterone treatment for women; clinical studies have shown that taking testosterone does not increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer; in fact, it may play a key role in protecting against the disease. Women can take testosterone in the form of a cream, a patch, pellet implants, or oral tablets. Your doctor can determine the best dosage for you by measuring testosterone levels in your blood or saliva, or making a judgment based on any symptoms you are experiencing. Since hormone levels fluctuate regularly for women, it is worth revisiting your dose on a regular basis to ensure that you are getting the right amount.
Testosterone supplements might be commonly thought of as for men, but when taken correctly, they can have many benefits for women, particularly when the woman has been dealing with symptoms of low natural androgen hormone production.