Our hormones affect everything from our mood to energy levels. One hormone, testosterone, affects our sexual desire and vitality.
Isn’t testosterone a male hormone? It is. Males have a high concentration of testosterone in their body. But women have it too, but not as much as men. But that little testosterone can strongly affect our libido and energy.
So it’s important to understand the role testosterone plays in the body. But even more than that, you should learn how to take advantage of this hormone to boost your libido and energy naturally. And that’s what today’s article is all about.
Let’s dive in.
What Exactly Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a type of androgen produced in both men and women. It helps to develop and maintain the female sexual anatomy, physiology, and sexual desire.
In the female body, testosterone can be found in small amounts in the ovaries and adrenal cortex. The normal level of testosterone in women ranges from 15 - 70 ng/dL of blood. But the healthy amount for you will depend on your age. And when you don’t have enough testosterone, it can affect a person’s health and well-being.
This means that you can have too little testosterone, or too much. And both cases can affect your health in different ways. Let’s start with how low testosterone affects feminine health.
Unmistakable Signs that Your Testosterone Level May Be Too Low
Your testosterone is too low when you have less than 15 ng/dL of it in your blood. And the most common cause of testosterone decline in women is age and menopause. For most women, their testosterone level starts reducing at age 30.
A blood test is the #1 way to confirm the actual amount of testosterone in your blood. But there are other ways to know if you have low testosterone. Your body will start to throw some of these signs at you:
A dip in sexual desire and arousal — Most women with low testosterone levels always notice a sharp drop in their libido. That’s usually the case if it takes much longer for you to get in the mood… or if you just don’t feel like having sex as much as you used to want it. Sex suddenly turns into a chore and no matter how much you’d like to get in the mood, your body just doesn’t want it.
All this can be caused by low testosterone levels.
Your body needs testosterone for arousal, and when you don't have enough of it, your genital and orgasmic arousal reduces.
Muscle weakness and persistent fatigue — Studies have shown that testosterone helps to maintain muscle mass and strength. That means that a drop in testosterone levels may cause muscle weakness and fatigue.
So if your muscles feel sore more often than not and you’re not bursting with as much energy as you used to, low testosterone might be the culprit.
Mood swings and depression — Most women struggle with cranky moods once they hit menopause, and that’s no mistake. The changes in the female body during menopause often cause hormones to go out of whack, and that affects your neurotransmitters.
If the neurotransmitters don’t fire as they used to, you may start to notice mood swings and depression. You might also experience sleeplessness, irritability, and loss of appetite.
- Fertility issues — Testosterone plays a crucial role for women that want to get pregnant. It’s used in the development of the follicles that carry and release the eggs. That’s why women with low levels of testosterone may struggle with infertility.
- Vaginal dryness — Testosterone is one of the hormones that helps to maintain vaginal lubrication. Women that lack enough testosterone notice that their vagina often gets dry and thin. And because of that, the vagina loses its elasticity and sex can becomes painful.
Keep in mind that the symptoms can vary from woman to woman. And you can’t be sure until you get tested.
So if you’re in doubt, visit your primary healthcare physician and get your bloodwork done.
Causes Of Low Testosterone In Women
There are two major causes of low testosterone levels in women. They include:
- Natural aging — Our bodies naturally produce less hormones as we age. When a woman hits menopause, her testosterone levels may have halved. This is quite natural.
- Removal/damage to the ovaries or adrenal glands — In the female body, testosterone is produced in two sites: the ovaries and adrenal glands. Any damage to those two sites can reduce the production of testosterone. Some of the things that can damage the ovaries and adrenal glands are tumor growth, chemotherapy, and surgical procedures like oophorectomy (surgical removal of one or both ovaries).
Other causes of low testosterone in women include the following:
Chronic stress, extreme weight loss, or other conditions that cause hormonal imbalance.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) suppression — Gonadotropin is a producer that helps in making testosterone and estrogen. And this producer can be suppressed by the excessive production of prolactin (also known as hyperprolactinemia).
Treatment Options for Low Testosterone
Some treatment options available to women with low testosterone includes:
- Hormone replacement therapy — Medication can come in the form of patches, gels, creams, and injections. This method of treatment must be by prescription to avoid risks.
- DHEA supplementation: DHEA is the hormone that turns into testosterone in the body. So by taking DHEA supplements, your body will turn it into testosterone and your levels will increase.
- Lifestyle changes — some lifestyle changes can help the body to naturally regulate your hormone levels. Some of the habits you should get into include getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, reducing stress and alcohol intake. This will not only give you a testosterone boost, but it’ll also improve your overall health.
But as always, don’t forget to consult your doctor before choosing a treatment option. The treatment option that’ll be best for you will vary depending on the root cause of the problem and other health considerations.
Unmistakable Signs that Your Testosterone Level May Be Too High
Your testosterone can be too low… but it can be too high. And both cases affect the body in different ways. Let’s see some of the unmistakable signs that show up in the body of a woman who has very high testosterone levels:
- Acne — High testosterone increases the production of sebum. Sebum is an oil that blocks the pore on the skin, causing acne. It also creates an environment conducive for bad bacteria to grow.
- Increased muscle mass — Part of the reason men are generally stronger and more athletic than women is because of the difference in testosterone levels. Men normally have up to 900 ng/dl, but anything above 70 ng/dl is excess for women. If you have more muscle mass than typical for a woman, your testosterone level is probably higher than normal.
- Excessive hair — high testosterone encourages hair growth around the chest, thighs, back, and lower abdomen in women. The body converts part of the excess testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is a chemical that stimulates hair growth. So if you have more hair around the body, you probably have a high testosterone level.
- Breast size reduction — Women produce both estrogen and testosterone. Estrogen helps in breast development. But when there’s more testosterone than estrogen in the body, the breasts get smaller than usual.
Other signs of high testosterone levels in women include an irregular menstrual cycle, a deep voice, male pattern balding or hair thinning, and weight gain.
Three Common Causes of High Testosterone Levels In Women
Some of the known causes of high testosterone levels in women include:
Hirsutism – This is a condition that causes hair to grow in some parts of the body. Women that have this condition notice male pattern hair growth. That includes hair concentrated on the face, chest, and back. Other symptoms of this condition include acne, balding, an enlarged clitoris, and increased muscle mass.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) — PCOS is common among women of reproductive age. Common symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, polycystic ovaries, dark skin under the breast, and neck creases. Women with PCOS may also be at risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) — This is a genetic disorder that affects the adrenal glands. It results in the shortage of enzymes like 21-hydroxylase needed to produce hormones. Because of this shortage, the adrenal glands over-secretes testosterone and under-secretes cortisol and aldosterone.
Symptoms include low levels of cortisol, infertility, and atypical development of genitals. Diagnosis may be at birth, shortly after, or much later.
Treatment Options for Women With High Testosterone
Most Health professionals will recommend the treatment options that will work for the root cause of your condition. So make sure you consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
But some of the most common treatment options are listed below:
- Dietary and lifestyle changes to lose weight and reduce symptoms.
- Medications to stimulate ovulation such as clomiphene and letrozole.
- Medications to address other symptoms like Eflornithine cream, spironolactone, and electrolysis hair removal.
- Long-lasting hair removal procedures are laser therapy and electrolysis.
- Dietary and lifestyle changes
The goal of this treatment is to reduce the excessive production of testosterone. It also helps to make up for insufficient hormones.
So CAH medications include corticosteroids, mineral corticoids, and salt supplements.
Putting It All Together
There you have it. Testosterone in your blood can impact your health and lifestyle. And it’s completely natural for your hormone levels to change over time.
The key is to notice when these changes are impacting your life negatively and reach out to a doctor for help. Attaining hormonal harmony is key to healthy and blissful living. So, if you experience any of these symptoms discussed, consult your doctor.