Low testosterone in women is as common as it is in men, and symptoms of an imbalance are similar. Testosterone is considered an androgen (a male sex related hormone), but women do also have testosterone, although much lower levels than men. It is produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells. Just like with men, women’s testosterone levels begin to wane in the late twenties/early thirties and continue to decline with aging. For example, a woman who is 40 years old will have about one half of the testosterone that she had when she was 20.
Other things can cause testosterone levels to drop suddenly or more rapidly such as having a hysterectomy, especially if the ovaries are removed, and dysfunction of the adrenal glands or pituitary gland. Adrenal fatigue is a common cause of dysfunction that can affect hormone levels; this is usually caused by a combination of chronic, high stress levels and poor dietary habits.
Symptoms of low testosterone in women include:
- Decreased libido
- Reduced strength, endurance, muscle tone
- Increased weight gain, especially around abdominal area
- Dry and/or thinning skin
- Sleep disturbances
- “Low” mood
- Decreased energy levels
- Overall lack of motivation
- Fertility problems
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Hair loss (usually “patchy” and all over the head)
- Increased anxiety levels
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in bone density levels
Symptom for low testosterone in women can be similar to other conditions such as Hypothyroidism, Depression, Iron deficiency, and low levels of other hormones such as estrogen and progesterone so it’s ALWAYS important to have all hormone levels checked, including thyroid, to determine what’s causing symptoms. Lab tests will give the full “story” of what’s going on.
Though it’s much less common, some women have too much testosterone and it’s just as important to see a doctor for this as it is for low testosterone. Symptoms can include:
- Excess body hair
- Excess hair on chin or upper lip
- Deepening voice
- Acne and/or oily skin
- Balding around hairline
- Increased muscle mass/change in body shape
- Absence of periods
Research and studies in the past were not consistent and findings were varied regarding testosterone therapy for women. For example, one study associated an increase in abdominal weight gain after taking testosterone, however those results have been deemed “flawed” because the women participating had other hormonal imbalances going on that were not taken into consideration.
More recently though, research is showing that testosterone therapy is important and plays a big role in both how women feel, especially in regards to their libido and staying fit, lean, and active, and in their long-term health.
The New England Journal of Medicine, 2000, reported:
“Randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study examined effects on testosterone patches on 75 women, aged 31-65 who had undergone a hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries). Hysterectomies, without or without oophorectomy significantly decrease circulating levels of testosterone. Over three consecutive, 12-week periods, the women were given placebo, 150-mcg test patches, or 300-mcg testosterone patches. The unequivocal result was that women who received 300-mcg patches showed significant improvement in sexual function, mood, and general well-being.”
Another study published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that women who were given testosterone therapy lost two times more body fat and gained more muscle mass than women given a placebo. The women taking the testosterone therapy gained considerable lean muscle mass over a nine-month period (which helps you to lose weight). Both groups were on the same low-fat diet and exercise regime during the course of study.
Additionally, studies suggest that a deficiency in testosterone can be a “key predictive factor” for heart disease in menopausal women or women who have had hysterectomies, and that these women have three times more risk in developing cardiovascular disease – so treating low testosterone is important.
Of course, women only need a very small percentage of testosterone supplementation compared to what men need. When testosterone is balanced, women report that they feel more like they did when they were younger and have pep in their step again, with better mood and motivation. Entering the hormonal shifts that occur with peri-menopause and menopause can really have an impact on life and it’s always rewarding to feel like oneself again!
The Renewed Vitality practitioners are experts in hormone balancing. Our lab testing is much more comprehensive than what is traditionally done by most doctors so that all areas of deficiency and imbalances can be identified so that you can feel your very best.
Cheri Beck says
I have never found anyone to tell me what a good testosterone level is for me. I’m a post menopausal woman talking it off and on for years. Last year I received a160mg pellet of testosterone and a 69 mg of Estradiol. It was horrible. The masculinization was extreme. My levels were running like a
Mans. Now I do cream but still have excess lip hair and thinning head hair. And no energy. Im thinking it could still be too much at 2mg. None of my hormones are “optimal”. What delivery method do most women see as beneficial. I realize it’s ver individual but I feel like it’s just too much for me?
Debbie Baumgarten says
I totally understand what you have been going through. The pellets tend to be high in testosterone and once they are inserted you can’t adjust them. For these and other reasons we don’t use pellets. What we do is very thorough labwork and assessment of your symptoms to get a full picture of what is going on with all of your key hormones. Then we work to get them all well balanced. Thinning hair could possibly indicate a thyroid issue as well. Delivery methods vary depending on what you need and your preferences. I do think we could help you with these issues.
Cheri Beck says
Sorry I just saw this reply! Thank you for responding. I am now as of last week a patient there and will meet with Dr. Spurlock to go over my lab results next month. Hopefully now I will know once and for all.
I am 52 and still have regular monthly periods. I underwent hormone testing recently and was told by ob/gyn that I “make the estrogen of a 20-year old, but negligible testosterone.” So I tried the pellet (BioT). The negative side effects far outweighed the positive (aggression & weird sense of all over, uncomfortable swelling). No progesterone supplements were given.
What should I do? I’ve gained 10# in last year and cannot get it off, no matter how hard I try!
@LT would you please write what has worked? Thank you! I’m in a similar boat with regular cycles, excellent progesterone and estrogen while extremely low testosterone, esp. for my age (not yet 50).
Annette Lollar says
I have been using hormone replacement therapy for 15 years. My provider currently does a great job caring for my hormone and thyroid issues. The only problem is that I’d like to try topical testosterone instead of injunctions and they do not prescribe topical testosterone. My current providers location makes seeing them every two weeks increasingly burdensome and they are relocating even farther away. I would also like the freedom to be able to travel away from home for more than two weeks at a time. Does you practice allow for topical testosterone to be prescribed?
I’m 41 and went to the doctor and she said I had no hormones or testosterone and a few weeks later she decided to put me on a low-dose of testosterone but my thing is I am thinking about the pallets but just not sure just trying to find out more information on that if you could tell me a little bit more about the pallets and their use that would be great because I really want to lose weight also just to have the energy to do everyday things again
I am 71 and have been post menopausal since my late 30s. I then had one ovary removed After that I was on Cobmi patch HRT for years and things were okay. Then during Covid, I stopped being able to afford the patch so I stopped. My DEXA scan went from a steady +3.51 to a -1 in a year. My belly got fat and I am exhausted. I still did weight bearing exercise and I ate a little worse but not that bad. My vaginal tissues had been so atrophied when I stopped once before that they thought I had cancer . I didn’t it was just total lack of estrogen. So now I am back on Combi=Patch the lower dose one with estradiol and progesterone. My lady parts are better but my skin is still so thin and dry. I use tons of creams but nada. My gyn just prescribed bio identical testosterone to put on inner thighs. I didn’t get it yet. She did not test my levels so I ordered two tests from you. I am going to try it for a month and then take the second test. I have never been so flabby and thin skinned. Yeah, I get it I am old. But this happened fast. One year post taking the HRT it all happened at once. My thyroid levels are slightly hypo but have been my entire life. When I take even the slightest dose of Synthroid or any thyroid booster, and get to “normal” levels I feel insanely agro. So not doing that. I ski about 75 days a winter and work out as well. I work out all off season too. I eat basically high fat, medium protein and low carb as that seems to work best on my renal functions. I just can’t lose belly fat, hold on to bone , and I am also having some unwanted sexual failings. (yes I know I still have sex single at 71–my boyfriend is younger) Anyway I don’t want to be a man I just want to tighten up my body . thanks.
Ana Milos says
I was told taking testosterone makes you get breast cancer, acne, balding hair…I was like “no thank you. I don’t want breast cancer or balding hair. I’m not even going to do Hormone therapy either. It’s not good AT ALL for your body. I know alot of women do hormonal therapy just to please their husbands but screw that i wouldn’t mess up my body just for a man’s pleasure.
Im confused I thought low testosterone cause hair loss. I also just read studies that said the opposite that low testosterone could lead to higher risk for Heart Disease and Breast cancer. I’m younger 34 on a small dose and I defiantly am not doing this to please my husband. Lol. Hilarious that’s the reason you would believe most women do it. It’s due to the side effects of low Testosterone in their bodies. That’s why all the women I know have.
marie simrod says
Testosterone, in and of itself had not been known to cause breast cancer. Testosterone is converted to estrogen by aromatase. If you have breast cancer and are being treated for it with aromatase inhibitors, then u have to be careful of how much testosterone you take. I take the injection. I can temper it monthly. More or less if needed. It is the only thing that gets me thru each day and I’m 67 and yes, have a very active sex life with my husband that I will not compromise. There is living and there is life. You decide which one and the quality of such.
Wow. I have a wonderful nurse practitioner who ordered lab work determined my testosterone was negligible and I have begun two drops of a tincture under the tongue twice a day. A compounding pharmacy prepares the tincture. I had every listed symptom of low testosterone. The most irritating to me were no libido no energy no motivation dry skin etc. I’m now 67 had a hysterectomy at 42 and have been on estrogen ever since. I can barely wait for more energy and libido as I love my husband very much and he is quite healthy in bed. Good luck to us all. I’m thankful for my health care provider.