Testosterone is a male hormone that is naturally occurring in women as well but in much smaller amounts. Men may experience reduced body fat and increased muscle mass as a result of testosterone therapy. But is the same true for women?
In this article, we will discuss whether females can take testosterone supplements, whether they should take testosterone supplements, and the potential outcomes that may be experienced by doing so.
- What is Testosterone
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles
- Weight Gain
- Poor Sleep Quality
- Low Libido
- Vaginal Dryness
- Low Bone Density
- Cognitive Impairment
- Hypothalamic/pituitary Disease
- Medication Side Effects
What is Testosterone
Before we get into it, let’s start by discussing what testosterone is. Testosterone is a male hormone that has an important role in male reproductive and sexual development. It is primarily responsible for the development of male physical characteristics, such as a deep voice and facial hair, and for the production of sperm. It also helps to regulate other body functions, such as libido and mood.
Testosterone is also a hormone that is naturally occurring in women but at much lower levels than in men. Depending on the age and health status, a woman’s body produces up to one-tenth the amount of testosterone produced by a man’s body. Women produce testosterone in the adrenal glands, ovaries, and peripheral tissues.
In some cases, women may take testosterone supplements to help treat medical conditions, such as low libido or symptoms of menopause. However, this is usually prescribed after other hormone replacement efforts have been unsuccessful. In general, a doctor or healthcare provider must assess a woman’s needs and health status before recommending any testosterone supplements.
Normal Testosterone Levels in Females
The usual range of testosterone levels in healthy adult women is between 15 and 70 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). In pre-menopausal women, levels are typically highest in the morning and decrease over the course of the day, typically between 4 and 7 pm. Postmenopausal women usually have lower testosterone levels compared to pre-menopausal women.
It is important to note that testosterone levels can vary greatly from one woman to the next. High levels of testosterone may indicate polycystic ovarian syndrome, just as low testosterone can indicate the presence of other underlying conditions such as adrenal dysfunction. Both ends of the spectrum come with their own set of symptoms.
Signs of Low Testosterone in Women
Testosterone supplementation is used in a medical setting when women demonstrate inadequate levels. If you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, the best way to confirm it is with a blood test. Low testosterone levels can cause a variety of unwanted symptoms, including:
Irregular Menstrual Cycles
One of the signs of low testosterone in women is irregular menstrual cycles. This can include missed periods, varying cycle lengths, and other abnormal menstruation patterns.
Fatigue and sluggishness are other signs of low testosterone in women.
Weight gain often accompanies low testosterone in women. This is due to changes in metabolism and hormones.
Poor Sleep Quality
Another common sign of low testosterone in women is poor sleep quality. Changes in hormones can lead to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and disturbed sleep patterns.
Low libido or hypoactive sexual desire disorder is one of the most common signs of low testosterone in women. This can lead to difficulty becoming aroused, difficulty achieving orgasm, and decreased interest in sex.
Low testosterone levels can also lead to vaginal dryness, a condition that can cause discomfort during sexual activity.
Low Bone Density
Low testosterone levels have also been shown to lead to decreased bone density, which can increase the risk of fractures.
Depression and anxiety are also commonly associated with low testosterone levels in women. Women with low testosterone levels may experience feelings of sadness or mood swings due to hormonal fluctuations.
Low testosterone levels may also cause cognitive impairment, including difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and memory recall.
Causes of Low Testosterone in Women
Inadequate levels of testosterone can occur in women for a few different reasons, but the primary reasons are as follows:
Menopause is one of the most common reasons for low testosterone in women. Older women tend to experience lower levels of Testosterone. As women age, their bodies produce less of this hormone which can lead to some of the symptoms mentioned above.
Hypothalamic/pituitary diseases such as hypopituitarism can lead to decreased testosterone production and low testosterone levels in women.
Medication Side Effects
Certain medications, such as steroids, birth control pills, and some antidepressants, have been known to decrease testosterone levels.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a medical treatment that replaces hormones to treat various medical conditions related to imbalanced hormone levels. HRT is often prescribed to treat problems associated with menopause in women, for example. But it can also be used to treat certain medical conditions, such as hypogonadism, a condition in which the body does not produce enough testosterone.
Hormone replacement therapy can involve the administration of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This is also the most common way that Testosterone is administered to women.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Though testosterone supplements are frequently recommended to male patients, they can be prescribed to some female patients and even purchased over the counter from online merchants. Testosterone therapy is typically prescribed to women who have extremely low testosterone levels and are experiencing symptoms as a result.
The most common type of testosterone therapy for women is a topical application or a cream or gel. This form of therapy is thought to have fewer potential side effects than other forms of therapy. Although other forms of treatment exist.
Benefits of Testosterone Therapy in Females
Research has shown that testosterone supplementation may offer other potential benefits to women—including increased energy levels, improved libido, decreased depression, increased lean body mass, and reduced fat mass.
However, these studies have their limitations, and the research surround thing the topic is still limited. Notably, the FDA (food and drug administration in the United States) still has not approved testosterone therapy for use in females, so any treatment undergone is considered speculative. However, this is the case for various drugs and supplements that are widely used.
Testosterone for Hormonal Imbalances
Testosterone can be administered as a treatment for low levels or to relieve menopausal symptoms.
Testosterone for Muscle Development
Testosterone has also been positively correlated with leanness and muscle mass in men so it would make sense that women could experience similar benefits themselves.
Some experts believe that testosterone therapy may help women build muscle mass and strength, and existing research supports this hypothesis. However, most studies involve small sample sizes and focus on individuals who have low levels of naturally occurring testosterone. There is not much research to demonstrate the impact on otherwise healthy individuals. For this reason, more research is needed to support and validate this belief.
Side Effects of Testosterone Supplementation in Women
Just as low testosterone has negative side effects, supplements also can also lead to too much Testosterone, which can cause potential risks and side effects such as:
- Increased breast cancer risk
- Hair loss
- Development of a deeper voice
- Excessive body hair growth
- Enlarged clitoris
- Decreased breast size
- Mood swings
- Interference with menstrual cycles
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Increased reproductive risk
- Increased risk of stroke
The side effects vary from person to person and may vary based on the dosage, existing levels, and type of therapeutic agent used. It is important to consult a doctor before beginning any testosterone supplementation.
Alternatives to Testosterone Therapy for Women
Women with low testosterone levels may want to first explore alternative treatment options before considering testosterone therapy. These may include lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress. Additionally, women can improve their hormone levels the natural way by taking certain supplements, such as Vitamin D.
Can Women Take Testosterone?
Testosterone therapy can be used to treat low testosterone levels in women. However, it is important to understand that this therapy comes with a variety of potential side effects and risks and should only be used under the supervision of a medical professional. Lifestyle changes and alternative treatments can help with low testosterone levels, as well.
Disclaimer: I am a certified nutrition coach and personal trainer, not a registered dietician or physician. The information in this post are meant to be for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Please consult a licensed professional for specific dietary guidance