Health Alert 67
When you hear the word “testosterone”, you probably think of men. Today I’m going to show you how testosterone affects women.
Yes, women have testosterone too. They just have about one tenth as much as men. In fact, women often suffer from testosterone deficiency. It is a common cause of depression, lack of energy, weakness and loss of libido in women. Unfortunately, doctors rarely think of testosterone for women. They often reach for drugs first.
*Your Body’s Own Antidepressant*
Testosterone elevates the levels of norepinephrine in your brain. This has a stimulating and antidepressant affect. Last time, we looked at studies showing that antidepressants are not effective in men when their testosterones are low. I have found this to also be true in women.
Many of the women who come to me describing low sex drive and energy as a part of their depression have already started antidepressants from another physician. Ironically, the side effects of many antidepressants include decreased libido and fatigue. This is a good reason to be sure testosterone deficiency is not the real reason for your symptoms before you start a drug. Women also seem to be more prone to the side effect of weight gain with the drugs.
In addition to supporting mood and energy, testosterone builds and maintains muscle. Just like in men, testosterone declines in women as they age. Declining testosterone causes women to lose muscle and gain fat. Since they start out with less muscle than men do, loss of muscle with testosterone decline can be very problematic in older women.
*They Key to Testosterone in Women*
Before considering testosterone, you must have your blood level checked. A woman’s testosterone ranges from about 25 to 85 but a healthy man will have about 300 to 900. They key is to support the level of a healthy women without getting into the range for men.
I have seen women athletes intentionally push their testosterones to that of a man’s. It makes them faster, stronger and tougher. But if they persist for too long, they will get masculinization. I have seen broadening of the shoulders, facial hair, deepening of the voice and enlargement of the clitoris.
As with most things in life, balance is the key. This is particularly true of your hormones.
I have great success with low dose natural testosterone in women. I use creams, injectables and pill form and precursor supplements. Use the proper dosage monitored by your physician. You can enjoy the benefits of good mood and energy with a healthy sex drive without turning you into a man.
Al Sears, M.D.