Testosterone for women and why women may need testosterone replacement.
Testosterone is mostly known as the hormone that helps build muscles for boys and turns them into sexually functional men. But testosterone is also very important for women.
Testosterone is one of six hormones produced by the female reproductive organs. Women produce increased amounts of testosterone in puberty, because testosterone is the precursor to estrogen. Without testosterone, there would be no "woman."
When women are in their early 20's, testosterone levels are the highest. Women's decrease in sex drive my be due to oral contraceptives which suppress all sex hormone production (testosterone, estrogens and progesterone). Solving the problem is usually as simple as adding back some testosterone.
There are many causes of testosterone deficiency as a woman approaches and enters menopause. The ovaries produce the majority of testosterone and estrogens. With the cessation of 80% of hormonal production, a peri-menopausal woman suffers from estrogen, progesterone and testosterone deficiency. The replacement of estrogen alone does not normalize sex drive, help with loss of muscle tone, or the lack of energy women have.
Generally, laboratory tests for testosterone aren't useful. Some women with very low levels do not have symptoms, while others do. The laboratory tests measuring total and free testosterone are rarely any help.
Testosterone for Sexual Desire
Just as men's bodies produce small amounts of estrogen, women produce testosterone through the ovaries and adrenal glands. Testosterone is an important hormone because it contributes to increased libido and energy, helps maintain muscle mass, strengthens bone, and ensures the nipples and clitoris are sensitive to sexual pleasure.
Hormone Replacement Therapy and Testosterone
It is commonplace for doctors to prescribe estrogen and progesterone for complaints of menopause. These are the traditional female hormones that address some of the discomforts of menopause and provide the added advantage of protecting against heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis. Estrogen can help with relieving symptoms of hot flashes and vaginal dryness, but it does very little to enhance libido or energy.
Small amounts of androgen added to estrogen replacement therapy can restore sexual desire, improve energy and promote a sense of well-being.
Testosterone also helps prevent bone loss, improves body composition, and supports cognitive function.
Some possible testosterone side effects include acne, facial hair growth, weight gain or oily skin. These side effects are usually quickly reversed by stopping the testosterone supplementation.
Testosterone replacement therapy has both benefits and risks for relieving symptoms of natural menopause and surgical menopause.
For women that don't respond well to estrogen replacement therapy, testosterone replacement could be a solution.
This is common for women that have had their ovaries removed. In this case testosterone replacement therapy may provide relief along with providing an increased energy level, a higher sex drive, and an improved sense of well-being.
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