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May 18, 2012

Androgen Deficiency: Not Just For Men

Women, Androgen Deficiency and Treatment

Androgen Deficiency in Women

That testosterone stuff is just for men, right?  Not quite. Women need testosterone and other androgens just like men do.  Women can suffer from androgen deficiency (low testosterone) too.

Androgens are hormones responsible for development and maintenance of male characteristics.  But, they also provide health benefits to women too.  Some estradiol, one of the estrogens, is derived or produced from testosterone.

Testosterone is produced in women in the ovaries along with estrogen and progesterone, and in the adrenal glands.  Testosterone levels in women are about 10% of those in men. But, even at 10% of men’s levels testosterone plays an important role in the overall health of women.

Women really go through two “pauses” when they age; menopause characterized by declining levels of estrogen and progesterone, and andropause characterize by loss of testosterone.  Testosterone levels in women begin to decline in their 20s usually long before they experience declines in estrogen and progesterone.

Just like in men, androgen deficiency or low T can adversely affect the health of women.

Testosterone: Boosting Sex Drive and more in Women

The “hormone of desire” is testosterone and that’s true for both men and women.   Low sex drive or libido is linked to androgen deficiency in both sexes.

Testosterone also improves mental well-being in women, increases energy levels, improves body composition by maintaining muscle mass, and therefore better metabolism. Testosterone is anabolic which means it improves bone density, too.

Most women are aware of estrogen’s role in bone density.   Estrogen prevents bone loss, but testosterone stimulates bone production.  So if you already have suffered bone loss estrogen alone may not be enough to achieve better bone health. You might need a little “vitamin T”. Healthy testosterone levels may protect women against breast cancer as well.

Restoring testosterone to normal levels can also lower LDL or the bad cholesterol and increase the beneficial or good HDL cholesterol when given topically or in an injection.  Women frequently report fewer joint and muscle aches and improved flexibility, mobility, and less stiffness after receiving testosterone replacement.

Testosterone probably provides more “feel good” effects for women than other hormone replacement therapy.

What Are the Risks of Testosterone In Women?

The risks are minimal when doses are used to simply restore a woman’s level back to a healthy range.  The main side effects include hair growth (facial and under the arms) and acne. What would you expect? Testosterone is the “male” hormone.

If doses are excessive clitoral enlargement and deepening of the voice can also occur, but I have not seen (or heard) this in practice. But like any hormone it’s important to be monitored closely by a physician if receiving hormone replacement therapy.

How is Testosterone Administered to Women?

There are plenty of ways to treat androgen deficiency in women. Oral testosterone, though available, are not used in women or men because they are associated with adverse liver effects.  Most women prefer testosterone replacement in cream form that is applied daily.

Topical testosterone can be transferred to other individuals and even pets for a few hours after application so it’s wise to apply any topical hormone to an area of the body less likely to come in contact with others, or easily covered by clothing.

Testosterone can be given through an intramuscular injection, which is usually performed weekly.  Some women prefer injections as they sometimes forget to apply the creams on a daily basis. Adequate testosterone levels in women can be achieved through either mode of delivery. It is more a matter of personal preference (in men it can sometimes be difficult to achieve good testosterone levels with creams).

If you want to be the complete women then you should consider testosterone replacement if have androgen deficiency.

See “Testosterone – Not Just For Your Libido”,

“Increase Libido”

“Symptoms of Andropause in Women”

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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