Why is testosterone underestimate during menopause?
During menopause, all our hormone go through a “restyle”. A new normal level.
However, we tend to consider only oestrogen, our mother hormone. We think oestrogen is responsible for all the symptoms we experience when our fine regulated hormonal system begins to change. But, in reality, another two hormones are playing a role. One is progesterone, you can find more information about it here. The other one is testosterone.
But isn’t that the male hormone? Well, yes but women have it too. Women NEED it to function properly. Of course, the amount of circulating hormone in women is a lot less than in men, but it plays a pivotal role in our wellbeing.
What is it?
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. In men, it plays a key role in the development of male reproductive tissues such as prostate and testes. It is involved in health and well-being, and the prevention of osteoporosis. Low levels of testosterone in men may lead to abnormalities including frailty and bone loss. Testosterone is present in the body since puberty. Adult testosterone effects are more clearly demonstrable in males than in females, but it is no less important in females. In women, testosterone is produced by the ovaries.
What happens during menopause?
Healthy women produce approximately 100 – 400 mcg per day. This is three to four times the amount of oestrogen produced by the ovaries. Approximately half of endogenous produced testosterone and precursors are derived from the ovaries e.g. androstenedione and the other half from the adrenal glands e.g. dehydroepiandrosterone.
Testosterone levels naturally decline throughout a woman’s lifespan. Loss of testosterone is massive after surgical or medical menopause and Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). In those cases, testosterone production decreases by something like 50%.
What is testosterone’s role in women?
It is very important for women’s wellbeing. First of all, it contributes to libido, sexual arousal and orgasm by increasing dopamine levels. The hormone also guarantees the maintenance of normal metabolic function, together with muscle and bone strength, urogenital health, mood and cognitive function.
Testosterone deficiency can lead to several distressing sexual symptoms such as low sexual desire, arousal and orgasm. This has been reported to have quite an impact on women life as it can create tension between partners. Of course, this is not the only reason for the loss of libido. Other factors we need to consider include psychosexual, physical, iatrogenic and environmental.
Testosterone deficiency can also diminish in general quality of life. It can cause tiredness, depression, headaches, cognitive problems, osteoporosis and sarcopenia.
Effects on post-menopause
After the menopause, as we all know, oestrogen levels fall to an undetectable level. Consequently, the small amount of remaining testosterone may give rise to androgenic symptoms. These include acne, increased facial hair growth and male pattern baldness. The frequency of these problems also depends on personal genetics.
What are the effects of THT?
Some research has shown that supplementing testosterone with therapy, (THT) may provide the following benefits to women:
- Relief of the vasomotor symptoms (night sweats, hot flushes)
- Increase in energy levels
- Decreased breast tenderness
- Improved sexual desire
- Enhanced orgasm
Are there any side effects?
Even though TRT has been used since 1936, many women are still unsure about it. Some side effects of THT have been reported to be acne, facial hair growth. However, long-term safety information on THT is lacking. Once again I will say this: WE NEED MORE RESEARCH!
Which are the symptoms of lack of testosterone?
If you believe you are experiencing a testosterone deficit, you might watch out for the following symptoms:
- Muscle weakness
- Sleep disturbances
- Reduced sex drive
- Decreased sexual satisfaction
- Weight gain
- Fertility issues
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of bone density
THT is available in oral oestrogen-androgen combinations. It can be injectable, or implantable forms, or in compounded testosterone creams. The reality is, there is no actual parameter by which doctors can measure whether or not your testosterone levels are really “low”.
Luckily, there are so many options these days, so you just have to find out what works for you. In the end, the best thing you can is to do your own research. Talk to your doctor. Consider all of the risks and benefits, and then make a knowledge-based choice. A choice that will be the best for your health and your mind. It’s your body and your life.