Testosterone is the major sex hormone in males and plays a number of important roles, such as influencing sexual development, muscle mass, and red blood cell production. It originates mainly in the testicles but can also be produced in smaller amounts by the ovaries in females.
In biology class, we learn that testosterone is essential for male reproductive health and development. In pop culture, testosterone has become associated with strength and power. We often hear about athletes taking testosterone to increase their performance or men taking it to boost their energy levels.
But what about women? Do they need testosterone, too?
What Is Testosterone?
First, let’s learn a little more about testosterone and its function in the body.
Testosterone is a hormone that plays an important role in developing and maintaining male reproductive organs and secondary sex characteristics. It is the primary sex hormone in males, produced mainly by the testicles, and it is responsible for regulating sexual development, muscle mass, and red blood cell production. Testosterone levels are naturally much higher in people with male gender identity than those with female gender identity.
Testosterone is an androgen, which means it helps to regulate male characteristics such as body hair growth, deepening of the voice, and increased muscle mass. It also plays a role in sperm production and sexual desire. But all this chat about men and testosterone begs the question: Do women need it, too?
Do Women Need Testosterone?
Yes, women do need testosterone. While men’s bodies produce significantly more of this hormone than women, that doesn’t mean that females don’t have any at all. Women naturally produce smaller amounts of testosterone in their ovaries, and this hormone is essential for female sexual health, reproductive functioning, and overall wellness. Proper testosterone levels help to regulate the menstrual cycle, ovulation, libido, and fertility. It also plays a key role in breast development and maintaining bone density.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Women
Low testosterone in women is a condition that is often overlooked but can have serious consequences. Women with low testosterone may experience a range of symptoms, including fatigue, poor concentration, loss of muscle mass and strength, low sex drive, low mood, hair loss, thinning and dry skin, trouble sleeping, and overall strength decrease.
Testosterone levels naturally decline as women age, particularly after menopause. This can lead to a decrease in sexual thoughts and fantasies as well as decreased libido. Other causes of low testosterone in women include medical conditions such as hypopituitarism, a pituitary gland disorder. Diagnosing and treating this condition is important, as it can lead to a number of serious health problems.
Can Women Have Too Much Testosterone?
Yes, it is possible for women to have too much testosterone. High levels of testosterone in females are known as “hyperandrogenism” and can cause a number of physical and psychological symptoms, such as male-pattern baldness, acne, weight gain, excessive body hair growth (hirsutism), and a deepened voice. It can also result in menstrual irregularities and infertility.
Causes of high testosterone in women can include conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), congenital adrenal hyperplasia, tumors, and Cushing’s Syndrome. Generally, medical treatment is necessary to reduce elevated testosterone levels by addressing the cause of the problem.
Addressing Low Testosterone in Women
Women may sometimes need to supplement their natural testosterone levels with hormone therapy. The benefits of hormone replacement therapy for women suffering from imbalances include improved energy, mood, and libido. There is also evidence that testosterone therapy may help to improve bone density and muscle mass in postmenopausal women.
Unfortunately, many women don’t even realize that they need testosterone or may feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask their doctor about it. It’s important to remember that these are natural changes that come with age, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Your healthcare provider can work with you to develop the best hormone therapy plan for your needs. This might include lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, supplements, and/or hormone replacement therapy. Properly managed testosterone replacement can have many positive health benefits, including improved energy levels, moods, libido, bone density, and muscle mass.
It’s also important to choose a qualified healthcare provider who is familiar with hormone testing and treatments. Having an understanding specialist that you can rely on can make the process easier and more comfortable. Don’t let fear or embarrassment stand in the way of addressing your health concerns — your well-being matters!
While testosterone is more commonly associated with men and athletic performance, it’s important to remember that women need testosterone, too. It plays a critical role in regulating sexual development, muscle mass, and red blood cell production. Low testosterone levels can cause a variety of symptoms in both genders, including decreased libido, fatigue, depression, difficulty concentrating, decreased muscle mass, and decreased bone density.
Whether your body produces enough of this hormone naturally or you require supplementation through hormone therapy, maintaining a healthy hormonal balance is key for female health and well-being. Keeping an eye on your hormones can help to ensure that you have the energy, vitality, and confidence to live your best life.