How Low Testosterone Can Impact Women
Despite its reputation for being the “macho” hormone produced by men, testosterone plays an important role for women, as well. Similar to its effects on men, testosterone levels in women impact fertility, sex drive, red blood cell production, and distribution of muscle mass and fat. Like its presence in men, testosterone levels in a female wane over time as her ovaries and adrenal glands slow down or stop the production of certain hormones.
It’s estimated that somewhere between 10 and 15 million women suffer from low testosterone; it’s not only post-menopausal women—many are women in their 20s and 30s.
Women who have low testosterone levels tend to experience fatigue and weakness, low sex drive, weight gain, fertility issues, and irregular menstrual cycles, among other common symptoms. Not much is known about testosterone in women, and doctors will often test for other common causes of these symptoms in an effort to correctly diagnose low testosterone.
What role does testosterone play in a woman’s body?
As mentioned before, testosterone levels affect a woman’s body in numerous ways, from how much energy she has to how her body distributes muscle mass and fatty tissues. Normal testosterone levels help control weight gain and prevent sudden drops in muscle mass, among many other functions. Because testosterone is the primary sex hormone in women, it plays a very important role in sexual arousal, including sensitivity to touch in select areas and intensity of orgasms.
How much testosterone is normal for women?
That’s not exactly an easy question to answer, as testosterone levels ebb and flow throughout a woman’s life, just like in men. Testosterone levels are highest for women during puberty, then they slowly start to decrease in their 20s. Along with the adrenal glands, the ovaries produce testosterone and continue to do so throughout menopause. Some women even continue to produce testosterone for a while after menopause.
With that said, healthy testosterone levels in women can range from 15 to 70 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL). Comparatively, normal testosterone levels in men tend to range from 280 to 1,100 ng/dL. Your medical professional will run blood tests to help determine if you suffer from low testosterone levels.
What causes low testosterone in Women?
Like many health conditions, there could be numerous reasons why a woman might experience low testosterone levels.
The most common cause is aging and menopause. However, some women might have problematic ovaries, pituitary glands, or adrenal glands, which could lead to any of the symptoms of low testosterone like weight gain, loss of sex drive, or a hormone imbalance. If her ovaries were removed, for example, she might experience low testosterone levels.
Another sort of catch-22 that could be at play is related to the first cause mentioned above: medications that are often prescribed to help combat the side effects of menopause can affect a woman’s level of testosterone, including oral estrogen.
Long-term use of birth control pills might also affect testosterone in women.
Likewise, diet could also have an effect on testosterone in women. Soy-based foods like tofu, miso, and edamame could lower testosterone levels through the phytoestrogens found in soy, which mimic the qualities of estrogen. Other foods that might impact testosterone levels include mint, licorice root, flaxseed, vegetable oil, and alcohol.
Once again—there’s not enough conclusive research to speak definitively about what causes low testosterone in women.
What to do if you think you have low testosterone:
The first thing to do if you suspect you might have low testosterone based on any of the symptoms is to consult us. Describe what you’re experiencing, and we can run blood tests to rule out other diagnoses. While pharmaceutical options exist like testosterone patches, creams, injections, and pellets, you can also try to modify your diet and test out alternative birth control methods first.
It’s important to proceed with the solution that is best for you and your lifestyle.
Testosterone replacement therapy
Testosterone replacement therapy could be the right solution for you if you feel you might suffer from sexual dysfunction or a sudden drop in sex drive as the result of imbalanced hormone levels. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD, is a common diagnosis that is tied to low testosterone in women, and it can be treated with testosterone therapy.
ReLive Medical will run tests to help identify if low testosterone is the underlying cause for your symptoms, and if so, we may recommend testosterone replacement therapy. Make sure you disclose as much information as you can regarding your health and medical history with ReLive Med—such as diet, birth control use, physical activity, and any other health conditions. This information will help us best prescribe your treatment and regimen.
As with any pharmaceutical treatment, some side effects might occur, including acne, facial hair, hair loss, deepening of the voice, and an enlarged clitoris.
With many years of experience helping women and men deal with hormone imbalance, the professional team at ReLive will conduct as many tests to help determine if you would benefit from testosterone therapy. This includes closely monitoring your hormone levels before and during treatment.
If you’d like to talk with someone at ReLive about how testosterone therapy might help boost your hormone levels and get you feeling like normal again, click here to get in touch and set up an appointment.