Womens Health

The Male Hormone—For Women!

Most people think of testosterone as the male hormone, but women have testosterone, too. They aren't even unusual that way: men produce a bit of estrogen, which is thought of as the female hormone.

Women make testosterone with the help of their adrenal glands and ovaries. Testosterone is among the hormones needed by women to aid their sexual function. This hormone gives a boost to a woman's energy and libido and can help her to sustain her muscle mass, keep her bones strong, and maintain the erogenous sensitivity of her clitoris and nipples.

As women age, their bodies begin to produce less estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. By the time a woman hits the age of 40, she is producing half the amount of testosterone she manufactured during her twenties. In menopausal women and in women who have undergone the removal of their ovaries, the levels of testosterone fall even more. Not a few doctors feel that the diminished sexual desire and plunging energy levels of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women is linked to falling levels of testosterone.

Testosterone Replacement

But doctors don't seem to agree on whether women should be given testosterone replacement therapy. When doctors do prescribe testosterone therapy, they administer the drug only to women who have decent levels of estrogen. That means that testosterone is not often prescribed for women who are postmenopausal and who for some reason, can't or don't use estrogen therapy. Testosterone therapy is not appropriate for women after menopause with past histories of uterine or breast cancer, or for women who suffer from liver or cardiovascular disease.

It is traditional for doctors to respond to complaints of menopausal symptoms by ordering estrogen and progesterone. That's because these hormones will relieve the symptoms associated with menopause while giving added protection against heart disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease. But while estrogen may calm your hot flashes and restore vaginal moisture, it won't do a great deal for your energy level or for your libido.  

That's where testosterone comes in. Testosterone therapy may be just the ticket for women after menopause who are on estrogen therapy but are suffering from a diminished sex drive after known causes have been excluded.

Heart Attacks

There are a number of studies being conducted on testosterone therapy for women, but with conflicting results. One such study says that small amounts of testosterone when added to estrogen therapy will restore libido, energy, and help give women a sense of wellbeing. Other studies point to the fact that testosterone can help stop bone loss, improve cognitive function, and lead to better body composition. But there was also a study which suggested that high levels of testosterone can triple a woman's risk for heart attacks in older women.  

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