Do Women Need Testosterone?
The technical answer to ‘do women need testosterone?’ is a simple yes.
The proof is in the fact that the hormone, traditionally associated with men, also courses through the blood of all women by nature.
For both genders, testosterone serves lots of functions. It helps improve energy, keeps one’s moods from swinging too far, strengthens bones and muscles, helps controls body fat, helps maintain mental acuity, and helps with the production of red blood cells. And by the way, it enhances one’s sex drive. So, pretty important overall.
Testosterone is mostly considered a male hormone simply because guys produce more of it – roughly 20 times the level of what females produce in their ovaries and adrenal glands.
So why is it even an issue for women?
As women age, testosterone and other reproduction-related hormones called androgens tend to diminish. Thyroid disease, certain medications, ovarian dysfunction, alcohol and marijuana consumption, and long-term contraceptive use have also been found to contribute to reduced testosterone.
The problem comes in when testosterone levels in females consistently drop too low. This can contribute to the fragility of bones, which is often already an issue for older women. It can diminish their natural sexuality, especially after a woman has crossed the threshold of menopause. It can also cause or exaggerate aches and pains, and it can throw her menstrual cycle off-schedule.
There’s more. A deficit of testosterone in women can contribute to sleep problems, weight gain, anxiety, a general sluggishness, and depression. As many women will recognize, these issues tend to be both widespread and underdiagnosed.
What’s the treatment?
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is the medical default remedy for low testosterone in women. Very small, carefully calibrated doses, delivered by patches, creams or pellets, can help restore the natural hormonal balance.
Will adding testosterone make a woman more like a man? Not as long as the levels are maintained within the appropriate physiologic range. Some females undergoing TRT have been known to develop deeper voices and a bit more facial hair. If that occurs, simply stopping or reducing the testosterone dose will usually allow a reversal of the changes. These days, doctors tend to do a better job at calculating doses that minimize the side effects.
Are there any alternatives?
Over-the-counter testosterone supplements are available online and at drug stores. However they are unregulated, which means there may be no medical evidence to support their use, and any side effects may not documented.
Should I see my doctor about Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
If you have concerns related to any of the factors mentioned above, a consult with your physician is never a bad idea.
Even if your testosterone level is found to be low, there’s no guarantee that this is related to your health or sexuality issues. However after TRT treatment, many women report positive, long-term improvement regarding sexual arousal and responsiveness, general mood and energy levels, and other health issues.
TRT is often also used in combination with other remedies for hormonal imbalance, such as progesterone, estrogen, and/or thyroid hormone.
Women who are undergoing, or have just gone through, menopause are encouraged to have their hormone levels checked, since their body chemistry has been going through significant changes. If your doctor can’t help restore a healthy balance, he or she can refer you to a physician who can.