Many women are unaware of the important role that testosterone plays in their sexual, physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Testosterone is usually referred to as “the male sex hormone”. However, it is vital for female health and wellbeing, particularly during the perimenopause and after.
Testosterone’s main function is to provide a sense of vitality and sexual drive. It’s also responsible for feelings of confidence and assertiveness, physical strength, stamina and bone density.
Women produce about one tenth the amount of testosterone produced by men in the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Women’s testosterone levels peak in their early twenties and by the time they’re in their mid-forties levels have decreased by almost 50%.
However, not all women experience a testosterone level drop when they enter perimenopause; in fact some women actually experience an increase in their testosterone levels as oestrogen levels decline.
Other women may have normal testosterone levels but be experiencing low libido due to an oestrogen deficiency. It is also possible for women with low testosterone levels to have a normal sex drive.
Symptoms of Testosterone Deficiency in Perimenopausal Women
Symptoms of testosterone deficiency include:
Loss of interest in sex
Depression and anxiety
Difficulties with sexual arousal
Loss of joie de vivre
Weight gain around the belly and hips
Feeling insecure or timid
Poor muscle tone and muscle weakness
Lack of stamina
Difficulty coping with stress
Loss of confidence and assertiveness
Are you sure it’s Testosterone Deficiency and not Something Else?
Lack of libido can also be due to oestrogen deficiency, so make sure your GP measures your oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels as well as your thyroid hormones and iron levels.
It’s vital that your health practitioner rules out the possibility of these conditions as you will only benefit from taking supplemental testosterone if you have a deficiency.
Causes of Testosterone Deficiency in Women
The older you are, the lower your testosterone levels are likely to be. Apart from hormonal declines during perimenopause, testosterone levels can also be affected by your diet, alcohol use, stress levels, smoking and your general state of health. Low testosterone levels may also be due to adrenal exhaustion caused by chronic stress.
Treatment for Testosterone Deficiency
Unfortunately, there is no licenced testosterone treatment for women. Only a few doctors recognise how important it is and are prepared to prescribe it off-licence.
Testosterone is normally administered in the form of a gel, such as Testim Testosterone Gel although some clinics do have access to implants which are inserted beneath the skin.
If you are concerned about your symptoms please speak to your GP about testing your hormone levels. If you are testosterone deficient and your GP does not feel comfortable prescribing testosterone, ask for a referral to a Gynae-Endocrine Consultant or a menopause clinic near you.
If you are worried about talking to your GP about this matter please read my article on How to Become an Empowered Patient.
I’ve written about my personal experience of testosterone treatment in a couple of blog posts.
HRT and Me: The Battle for Testosterone
HRT and Me: Using Testim Testosterone Gel as a Woman
Listen to the true story of my journey From Hormone Hell to Feeling Well. In it I tell of how my menopause symptoms were misdiagnosed, being treated for depression for years while my life fell apart, and how HRT and testosterone treatment restored me to health.