When we think about the menopause, we hardly ever think about testosterone.
We tend to focus more on oestrogen and sometimes progesterone. We don’t even associate testosterone with femininity. When we think testosterone, we maybe just think of men, muscles and body hair. Testosterone isn’t only for men. We women need this hormone just as much as men do (well in every way except having to produce sperm). What we actually don’t realise is how much our bodies need testosterone in order to function correctly.
Testosterone helps our bodies in so many ways that we don’t even think of. For example, it’s testosterone that gives us our libido. Which is why when we enter the menopause and our hormones decrease a lot of women (me especially) find that they have trouble orgasming or even “getting in the mood.” This isn’t all testosterone is good for though. It’s also important for our bone health as it promotes healthy bone density and muscle growth.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Just like oestrogen and progesterone, our body needs a healthy balance of testosterone in order to function correctly. Having too much or too little can cause havoc on our bodies.
The symptoms of a testosterone deficiency can be:
Poor muscle and fat distribution
Testosterone is responsible for our muscles. Hence why men naturally have more muscles than females. If you have low testosterone, you might find that your muscle mass and definition is decreasing. With this you might feel weaker and more sluggish. You might also notice that the fat in your body is no longer distributed evenly. As testosterone decreases it also changes where fat is stored in the body. Many women with the menopause experience their pear shape becoming more of an apple, as fat accumulates more around the stomach and waist and less all over the body.
Sluggishness and tiredness is also another common symptom of low testosterone. This can be due to the decrease in muscle mass or a lack of sleep. Fatigue can also occur due to a decrease in red blood cells, which testosterone is responsible for creating. A decrease in testosterone can also cause sleep disruptions, which is bad as our hormone levels rise when we sleep and decrease when we are awake.
Loss of bone density
Testosterone is also responsible for healthy and strong bones. Without testosterone, the bones in our body can become frail and less dense. This can lead to many people (including myself) developing osteoporosis. This can also contribute to feelings of fatigue and tiredness.
Remedies for Testosterone Imbalance
A question that you may be wondering about is are my testosterone levels normal? First and foremost, resist the urge to go on the internet and self-diagnose. It can be easy to see a huge list of symptoms and go, yup, these are all me and before you know it, you’ve convinced yourself you’re dying of a terminal illness. If you’re really concerned about your symptoms or hormone levels, I would recommend seeing a GP and requesting a test. A qualified healthcare professional can go over the possible treatments that would be compatible with you and your lifestyle.
If you’re still concerned about your testosterone levels, there are a few lifestyle changes you can always incorporate to try to help your body maintain the right testosterone balance.
Try to avoid stress
You’ve probably heard this countless times before. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you roll your eyes when you read this. However, it is important to remember that when we get stressed this leads to an increase in our cortisol levels. This can quickly reduce testosterone levels, which if you are already deficient will not help at all.
Eat the right Food
The correct diet is one of the most important and effective ways to look after our bodies. It’s important to remember that everybody is different however. Tailor your diet to your specific body and lifestyle. The most important thing to keep in mind is to avoid over-eating and under-eating. Try to always have a balanced diet (this includes carbs, fat, and protein). Doing this can optimize your hormone levels and your health in general.
Maca is also a great superfood which can help boost testosterone. You can buy this as a powder (or with my meno blend) and mix it into a hot drink. I know one of my friends always adds a little bit of maca into her hot chocolate to help her sleep at night.
Get Enough Vitamin D
I know this is a big ask for anyone living in the UK, but I cannot stress enough how important vitamin D is for our bodies. Getting enough sunlight throughout the day can work as a natural testosterone booster. You can also talk to a doctor about vitamin D supplements if you’re finding it particularly hard to get vitamin D naturally.
Exercise with Weights
In all my articles, I have always recommended regular exercise and in fact any exercise will still help your body. However, with low testosterone in particular weight bearing exercises can be the most effective. Using light weights can help stimulate your muscles, helping maintain mass and definition. Resistance training is also a good way to boost your testosterone in both the long and short term. You could also try high intensity interval training (HIIT) if you also want to work up a sweat and engage your core. However, remember not to go overboard and force your body with too much physical exertion. Be gentle with yourself and your progress and remember to drink plenty of water when training.
Author: Erica Fraser