Should Women Worry about Low Testosterone?
While testosterone is generally considered a male hormone, it is also produced in the female by the ovary. Some of the general eff ects of low testosterone in women are decreased sex drive, decreased energy and decreased muscle mass ‒ s o recognizing symptoms and signs of testosterone defi ciency is crucial, writesDR SLY NEDIC
Daily production of testosterone in women is around 20-30 times less than the levels found in men, but the importance of this hormone in women is just as high as our male counterpart. Conventional medical doctors (or even your gynaecologist for that matter) do not necessarily check your testosterone levels, so recognizing symptoms and signs of testosterone deficiency is crucial – as well as finding a physician trained in bio-identical hormone replacement if you are depleted. The Role of Testosterone in a Women’s Body:
- Stabilizes moods and increases assertiveness
- Enhancement of sex drive and orgasms
- Improvement of bone density, muscle size and muscle tone
- Decreases cellulite appearance in the thighs and arms
- Maintains the size and sensitivity of the genital female system, and maintains hair patterns and sebum secretion
- Arteriosclerosis protection Testosterone production in women comes from the conversion of hormones; DHEA and Androstendion, which are found in the peripheral tissue such as fat and skin. A smaller amount of testosterone is also produced by ovarian tissue and adrenals – and this production is ruled by pituitary hormones.
What are the Reasons for Low Testosterone Levels in a Women’s Body?
- Ageing As early as our late 30’s, testosterone is decreased by half the amount a women gets when in her 20’s. Since this process affects other hormones such as growth hormone, progesterone, estrogen, DHEA etc., replacement should therefore be done in conjunction with other bio-identical hormones. The other reason why this should be done simultaneously, is the fact that some of these hormones can converse into each other. For example: in overweight women testosterone can be aromatized into estrogen, which can add an extra burden of estrogen in the body (cautions in case of breast cancer predisposition).
- Stress Stress can affect the pituitary gland, which is involved to enhance the production of testosterone (via LH and ACTH hormones). Furthermore, during stress it decreases the production of DHEA and its conversion into testosterone. Decreased sex drive, increased cellulite, anxiety and depression are just some of the symptoms of depleted testosterone during stress. It is virtually impossible to achieve an orgasm during a stressful period. But documented depletion of testosterone shown in blood results and saliva cortisol level can easily illustrate this to the patient.
- The Contraceptive Pill The contractive pill is one of the major reasons why young girls experience a testosterone depletion. Unfortunately though, many are not informed of this risk prior to their decision of using this method of contraception. When the pill is taken, our body perceives this artificial estrogen as dangerous – and thereby reacts by using a protein called SHBG to bind to the estrogen. However, our body usually reserves this protein to bind to our testosterone – and since it’s now being used for estrogen instead, the testosterone becomes unavailable. This can be documented in the blood as a free androgen ratio, which shows the ratio of testosterone to SHBG – and can be used to summarize the activity of free testosterone. Young girls usually experience a loss of sexual drive, a decrease in muscle tone and an increase in cellulite and weight. They can also become short tempered, with outbursts of anger and anxiety. It’s ironic that the use of the contraception pill (which is aimed to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy) actually results in them not even having a substantial enough sex drive.
- Excessive Physical Activity High impact exercises such as long distance running, boxing and other vigorous sports makes the body consume high amounts of testosterone – especially in an ageing person.
- Diet A diet high in carbohydrates and sugar affects the production of androgens, and this situation gets complicated by concomitant insulin resistance and high inflammation in abdominal fat tissue. High inflammation with cytokines increases aromatization of testosterone, and produces a higher amount of the dangerous estrogen. Documented low testosterone with a good history and identification of the underlying cause is easy to diagnose. Since non-of the above symptoms are life threatening (and lots of symptoms are related to a decrease in sexual enjoyment), women intend to be rather passive about this issue – and so they often don’t seek out expert help. Furthermore, some of the symptoms overlap with menopausal symptoms of other hormone deficiencies like estrogen, which is considered normal at a certain age. Quality of life is definitely affected, yet majority of women still remain silent. In my practice (where multiple hormones are prescribed), I have yet to experience more positive results of any hormone than that of testosterone. Women definitely appreciate the difference that bio-identical testosterone can add to their existence, their sexual life, mood and body appearance.
TESTOSTERONE DEFICIENCY Symptoms and Signs
- Reduced muscle strength, volume and tone
- Back pain and joint pain
- Decreased libido and sensitivity of nipples and clitoris
- Decreased or absent orgasms
- Vaginal pruritus (itchiness)
- Painful intercourse
- Excessive emotions and outbursts of anger
- Depression and anxiety
- Often hesitant and undecided
- Urinary incontinence
- Increased cellulite (even on arms)
- Increased abdominal fat
- Increased susceptibility for varicose vein