The ovaries in a woman’s body are responsible for producing estrogen as well as testosterone. As a woman ages, the amount of estrogen and testosterone their ovaries produce decreases. When a woman begins pre-menopause, their body’s production of testosterone is significantly decreased. Once they start menopause, it is common for a woman’s body to produces less than half of what is produced prior to starting menopause. As a woman ages, their testosterone deficiency increases. A female who has had an oophorectomy or hysterectomy is at an increased risk for experiencing lower than normal testosterone levels.
How Testosterone Works
This is known as an androgen or a male hormone. It is produced in small amounts by a woman’s ovaries as well as their adrenal glands. The testosterone level in a woman’s body is at its height when they are in their 20s. After this time, their testosterone levels will start to decrease. It is possible for a woman’s sex drive to be linked to testosterone, but it is more complicated with women. Testosterone therapy is able to increase levels of testosterone in a woman’s body. There is not a sufficient amount of evidence showing testosterone always improves a woman’s menopausal symptoms. It will not help a woman who has ovaries that have stopped working.
How Women Benefit From Testosterone Therapy
Women will experience a number of different symptoms associated with low testosterone including mental fogginess, fatigue, low libido as well as weight gain. Physicians agree the benefits of testosterone therapy for women could involve relief from these types of symptoms. The complaint most often received by physicians is low libido. There have been studies showing that an aging woman’s sex drive will improve significantly with effective testosterone therapy for women. In some cases, testosterone therapy can provide a woman with symptom relief from menopause. This can include hot flashes, urinary urgency, vaginal dryness as well as incontinence and more. Testosterone therapy for women results in women being more protected against cardiovascular events. This includes increased blood flow and dilated blood vessels. Testosterone therapy for women has been shown to lower their insulin resistance which decreases their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
There have been testosterone therapy contraindications for women involving the use of testosterone. Some have questioned its safety. Cases of women developing oily skin, deep voice, male-pattern hair loss, acne as side effects are extremely rare. Some women have developed lower levels of HDL or good cholesterol levels. Studies have shown testosterone therapy at higher doses does have a negative effect on a woman’s health. There have been tests where testosterone therapy for women side effects has included an increased risk of developing heart disease or breast cancer.
Types of Testosterone
Prior to its introduction into the body, testosterone will be formulated with a substance to slow its release and extend its actions. There are two common types used. Testosterone enanthate is considered better with regard to its even release of testosterone. There is also testosterone cypionate. In many regards, they both can provide the same result.
The type of therapy designed for women will determine the frequency of their injections. It is possible for therapy to require injections four times a year. There is a cheaper variety of testosterone that is very short-acting but must be administered every three days. It is rare for a woman to be asked to use this type of testosterone. It’s possible for a woman to experience side effects during the first few days after injection. This is a result of the high peak levels of testosterone a woman may experience.
Each type of testosterone is able to be administered using gels, patches, and creams. Patches will slowly administer the testosterone through the skin. They are used once a day and then replaced. It is possible for some of these to cause a woman to experience skin irritation at the site where they’re administered. The other problem with this administration method it how it could affect others who come into contact with a woman’s skin. It’s possible for the testosterone on a woman’s skin to accidentally go onto another person’s skin. This person will then experience unintended higher levels of testosterone.
It is possible for a woman to receive testosterone with implants. In order to accomplish this, subcutaneous pellets will be utilized to deliver testosterone. Up to a dozen of these pellets can be placed under a woman’s skin approximately every three months. This procedure must be performed in a physician’s office. It is considered a minor procedure, and the woman having it done will have a local anesthetic. This is a popular method because it provides a dependable blood level of testosterone. It also only needs to be done four times every year.
During this process, lozenges are used as a way for testosterone to be absorbed through a woman’s mucus. This will avoid a woman experiencing a first-pass metabolism in the liver. This is what causes the most adverse side effects associated with testosterone therapy. Some women who receive testosterone using lozenges may experience gum irritation, headaches as well as a change in their ability to taste. Studies have shown the majority of side effects stop within two weeks of using the lozenge. A woman must have a lozenge with testosterone twice a day when receiving this type of therapy.
When to have Testosterone Therapy
A woman may want to consider testosterone therapy when they are experiencing certain symptoms. Testosterone therapy indications for women include but are not limited to moderate to severe hot flashes and other types of menopausal symptoms. Have premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency. Studies have shown women who experience early menopause and don’t have therapy until age 45 are at an increased risk for depression, osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, anxiety, and more.
Experts agree testosterone therapy for women is not all bad and not all good. It’s important for a woman to speak with their physician and determine if it will be a benefit to them. A physician will take into consideration a woman’s symptoms as well as health risks. It’s important a woman continue to communicate this with their physician during their years of menopause. As medical research develops new treatments, a physician’s recommended treatment may change. A woman should continue to regularly review all their treatment options with their doctors.