Testosterone in Women: What You Need to Know

Testosterone in Women: What You Need to Know

January 18, 2019

If there is one hormone you should not ignore, it is testosterone in women. Testosterone is a vital hormone that also declines when a woman goes through her “change of life.” During menopause, many doctors focus on estrogen and progesterone. However, forgetting about testosterone can lead to a condition called “estrogen dominance.”

What is estrogen dominance and what does it have to do with testosterone imbalance in women?

Estrogen dominance is a condition that occurs when there is too much estrogen in comparison to progesterone and testosterone. That does not necessarily mean you have high estrogen levels. It means that your estrogen is higher than the proper ratio of estrogen to progesterone and testosterone in women. For that to occur, progesterone and testosterone levels will decline at a greater rate than estrogen. By the way, men can get estrogen dominance as well when they have Low T.

How do you get estrogen dominance?

Estrogen dominance can occur from a few situations:

  • Your body is converting too much testosterone into estradiol. If you are overweight, your belly fat is producing more of the enzyme aromatase that has one primary job – to seek out and convert free testosterone in your bloodstream into estrogen. When that occurs, it boosts estrogen levels while lowering testosterone.
  • You are taking birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy for menopause. Supplemental estrogen in either form can increase estrogen levels in relation to testosterone and progesterone.
  • Overexposure to xenoestrogens. These are the chemicals more commonly known as parabens, benzophenones, and phthalates. You find these products in plastics, lotions, sunscreens, preservatives, and other items. Xenoestrogens alter your hormone production.
  • Your food contains estrogenic endocrine disrupters. Pesticides and hormones in the food you eat can increase or disrupt your estrogen and other hormone levels.
  • Chronic stress interferes with hormone levels, often increasing estrogen while decreasing testosterone.

Ignoring the level of testosterone in women can lead to a condition called estrogen dominance.

What Is the Role of Testosterone in Women?

Testosterone functions are not very different in women than they are in men. One of testosterone’s vital roles is that of promoting the production of red blood cells in bone marrow. Women of child-bearing age need to be especially careful about testosterone deficiency because they lose blood every month during their period. If testosterone levels are low, you may not produce enough new red blood cells to protect you against becoming anemic.

The role of testosterone in women is essential to understand. Although testosterone is an androgen hormone responsible for sexual desire, its effects go way beyond that function. Yes, testosterone will help maintain vaginal secretions for more pleasurable intercourse. It will promote stronger orgasms. These are benefits of testosterone therapy that many women with Low T enjoy.

Yet, there are many other functions of testosterone in the female body, including:

  • Keeping cortisol levels in balance to help reduce stress and promote adequate, restful sleep. Cortisol can keep you awake at night, causing a decrease in nocturnal testosterone and growth hormone production.
  • Supporting the function of follicle-stimulating hormone to improve fertility.
  • Promoting better bone mineral density to reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
  • Improving cardiac performance and overall heart health.
  • Lowering LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
  • Decreasing blood pressure levels for better cardiovascular performance.
  • Aiding in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism for better food conversion to energy while supporting fat-burning processes.
  • Building strong, well-defined muscles to protect the body from injury.
  • Stimulating androgen receptors in the brain for better learning, focus, memory, and emotional well-being.

Maintaining proper testosterone levels in women is crucial for overall health and well-being.

Where Is Testosterone Produced in the Female Body

Although it is often assumed that all testosterone comes from the sex organs, in this case, the ovaries, that is not the case. Where is testosterone produced in women if not just from the ovaries?

A small portion of testosterone also comes from the adrenal glands and peripheral tissues. The brain also provides a smaller supply of testosterone. Once a woman reaches menopause, her ovaries typically stop producing normal testosterone in women. After that occurs, the adrenal glands, tissues, and the brain continue to provide a small amount to the body.

Testosterone production takes place primarily in the ovaries, but a small amount does come from the adrenal glands, peripheral tissues, and brain.

What Are Normal Testosterone Levels for Women?

Normal testosterone levels in women are typically reported in nanograms per deciliter – ng/dL. Although different laboratories may vary slightly in their assessment of normal total and free testosterone levels in women, the following chart provides you with an idea of what to expect:

Normal Total Testosterone Levels Range15 to 70 ng/dL
Normal Free Testosterone Levels Range0.3 to 1.9 ng/dL

Some labs provide normal testosterone levels in nmol/l nanomoles per liter) instead of ng/dL. For total testosterone, the reading would be 0.5205 to 2.4290 nmol/l. For total testosterone, the range is 0.01041 to 0.0693 nmol/l.

Symptoms of low testosterone could appear when the levels of testosterone land towards the lower end of the range. High testosterone in women can also occur, although the symptoms are quite different. Women with elevated testosterone levels may suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Both low and high levels of testosterone may cause problems for a woman’s health and body.

What Are the Effects of Low Testosterone Levels in Women?

Aside from the symptoms of Low T, there are many potential effects of low testosterone in women that can impact future health. Testosterone deficiency increases the risks of developing any of the following medical conditions:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Low libido
  • Infertility
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Dementia
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Low testosterone effects in women cause the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Hair thinning or loss
  • Low libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flashes
  • Mental fog
  • Night sweats
  • Premature aging
  • Bone loss
  • Muscle weakness and decline
  • Memory loss
  • Insomnia or other sleep issues
  • Impaired cognitive functions

The symptoms of low testosterone are bothersome, but left untreated, they can lead to more serious problems.

How Do You Diagnose Low Testosterone in Women?

A diagnosis of high, low, or normal testosterone levels in women is essentially the same as with men. You will need to undergo a physical examination and blood tests in addition to the consultation with a hormone specialist at our clinic.

The blood test is the critical predictor of testosterone levels. You cannot diagnose low testosterone without a comprehensive blood test. A diagnosis of Low T requires both lower levels of testosterone along with symptoms of the decline.

Our hormone specialists will send you to a local laboratory to have your blood sample taken for testing. It is a quick process and takes only a few minutes first thing in the morning.

Once diagnosed with low testosterone in women, the next step is for the doctor to determine the best treatment option.

Any woman suspecting low testosterone levels will undergo a physical examination, consultation, and blood test before receiving a diagnosis.

What Is the Treatment for Low Testosterone in Women?

Unlike men who have many options for treating Low T, the best way for how to increase testosterone in women is with testosterone cream. Once the hormone doctor determines the necessary dosage of testosterone, a prescription for the cream will go directly to the compounding pharmacy. This is not the same as your neighborhood drug store. A compounding pharmacy prepares the medication using the finest ingredients.

Why is testosterone cream the only treatment for low testosterone?

All other forms of testosterone replacement therapy, such as gels, patches, and injections, are made for men. Their dosages are much higher than what a woman would require. Testosterone cream provides the low-dose treatment that can put female testosterone levels back into balance.

For additional information about low testosterone in women, treatment options, testing, or benefits, please contact our hormone clinic.

We provide confidential consultations by phone at no charge, so contact us today to learn more about low testosterone in women.

 

  1. Dr.Brighten
  2. American scientist 
  3. Harvard health publishing medical school
  4. Natural-Fertility
  5. Effects of gendered behavior on testosterone in women and men Sari M. van Ander Jeffrey Steiger, and Katherine L. Goldey Sari M. van Anders, Jeffrey Steiger, and Katherine L. Goldey Physiology & Behavior
  6. Male and female salivary testosterone concentrations before and after sexual activity
    Author links open overlay panel James M.Dabbs Jr.Suzanne Mohammed
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