For many years, medicine has ignored the natural existence of testosterone in women. Testosterone was considered a male hormone and something that women didn’t need. This is far from the truth. While women need far less testosterone than men, it still plays a crucial role in our health and well being.
The Role of Testosterone in Women
Testosterone can be summed up as the hormone that gives us vigor. Adequate testosterone will give us energy. It will help our muscles to recover from exercise. Testosterone plays a role in where fat is stored and how much fat our bodies store. The strength of our bones is influenced by testosterone and research shows that supplementing low levels decreases the incidence of bone loss with age. The suppleness of our joints are also affected. It also helps regulate our sleep cycles. Then there is libido and sexual satisfaction, where it plays an important role not only maintaining our interest in sex but preventing vaginal dryness and increasing satisfaction in sex overall.
Symptoms and Signs of Low Testosterone
- low libido
- vaginal dryness
- inability to climax
- low energy levels
- poor muscle recovery
- poor muscle strength
- fat retention despite proper calorie intake and exercise
- weight gain despite proper calorie intake and exercise
- poor sleep
- menstrual irregularities
- fertility problems
- decreased bone density
- joint pain
- depression and apathy
How to Find out if you Have Low Testosterone
A simple blood test can determine your testosterone levels. Your doctor will test for other things such as anemia and hypothyroidism which can have similar symptoms. Normal testosterone levels for women are considered to be 5–70 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). However, there is currently no guidelines on what optimal levels are for health and wellbeing and more research needs to me done on the topic.
Testosterone Replacement Treatment Options
If you’ve found out you have low testosterone you may be wondering what your treatment options are. Thankfully, there are several to choose from and likely one that will fit your lifestyle. Testosterone can be replaced using injected pellets, regular shots, a pill, a patch, or a cream.
Testosterone injections have been the most studied and are believed to be the most effective. Your doctor will determine your dose and you will receive an injection every two weeks or every month. Men doing this therapy usually are injected every week, or even twice weekly, but with women’s lower testosterone needs, it is believed that less often injections are necessary. Most doctors prefer you come to the office for your injection but some will train you to inject yourself at home which can be a convenient and cost-saving option. There is no down-time after receiving an injection and you can return to normal activity immediately.
Pellets are another favored option. Pellets are a small rice-sized compound of, typically bio-identical, testosterone that is injected into the buttocks. There has not been much study on pellets but the theory is that the body will dissolve and use the pellet as needed giving your body just the right amount of testosterone. Pellets are usually replaced every three to six months and the length they last seems to be exercise dependent. After receiving a pellet it is recommended to avoid exercise for anywhere from 3 days to a week.
Patches seem to be the next preferred method and are as simple as putting a sticker on your skin. The patches are waterproof and designed to stick for their designated period. Different patches will be changed at different intervals and patches are embedded with different dosages to match an individual’s need.
Creams and pills are the least recommended. Many people complain that the creams simply do not work for them. However, there does seem to be a small percentage who have good results from them and enjoy the ease of use. The only thing to watch out for with the creams is to make sure you do not touch the area treated to another person as they may inadvertently absorb some of the dose. Pills are convenient but there is speculation in the medical community that taking pills can put stress on the liver and oral delivery has unnecessary risks.
In the end, the treatment you decide on is a personal decision that you can only make after talking to your doctor.