Understanding Low Testosterone in WomenMost women are aware of the importance of estrogen and progesterone, but fewer understand the impact testosterone has on female bodies. Testosterone is the most abundant biologically active sex hormone in women and is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and throughout the body from precursors. Some testosterone also serves as a precursor to estrogen. Adequate levels of testosterone are essential for women and contribute to both physical and mental health. Testosterone:
- Promotes muscle and bone strength
- Increases sex drive
- Supports healthy energy levels and motivation
4 Signs of Low TestosteroneThe signs of high testosterone levels in women may be easy to imagine: excess hair growth, acne, a deepening voice. The symptoms of low T, however, may not be as apparent:
1. Low Sex DriveThe most common complaints associated with low testosterone in women include diminished sex drive, difficulty becoming aroused, difficulty achieving orgasm, and poor vaginal lubrication. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often misattributed to another condition, such as stress, depression, or perimenopause, preventing you from getting the help you need.
2. Muscle Weakness and Low Bone DensityMuscle weakness can be a sign of low T and may be particularly noticeable for women who are athletic, have a regular exercise routine, or have highly physical jobs. In the long term, low testosterone will also affect bone mineral density, but this may not be evident until a fracture occurs.
3. Fatigue and Lack of MotivationLack of energy is common when testosterone is low, as is a lack of motivation. These may be compounded by insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
4. Mood DisturbancesLow testosterone may cause significant mood disturbances, including feelings of depression and irritability. You may also notice cognitive changes, such as problems with concentration and memory.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy for WomenTestosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is considered to be the gold standard for treating low T in men. Many women are surprised to learn that is an option for them as well. In fact, a growing body of research suggests that TRT can have profound and widespread benefits for women struggling with low testosterone:
- A small placebo-controlled study found the premenopausal women with low T experienced significant improvement in psychological wellbeing and sexual function when treated with transdermal testosterone.
- There is evidence that testosterone added to hormone therapy has benefits for sexual function in peri- and postmenopausal women. TRT has also been found effective in improving sexual function in postmenopausal women who were not receiving estrogen therapy.
- A 2010 study found that subcutaneous testosterone pellet therapy provided relief of “somatic, psychological and urogenital” symptoms in premenopausal and postmenopausal women with testosterone deficiency.
- A 2014 study found that short-term testosterone therapy (24 weeks) in postmenopausal women who had undergone hysterectomy improved sexual function, lean body mass, chest-press power, and loaded stair-climb power.
- Testosterone alone or with an aromatase inhibitor may offer a safe and effective alternative to estrogen replacement therapy in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors.