Testosterone is the quintessentially male hormone, intrinsically connected to the ideas of masculinity and manhood. Testosterone provides men with a variety of potent benefits. It’s associated with lean muscle mass and reduced body fat. Testosterone and its precursors are the building blocks of sperm, the source of male fertility. Men require Testosterone to be in peak physical and psychological condition.
What many (or even most) people don’t recognize is that Testosterone is intrinsically vital to feminine health as well. Both men and women produce Testosterone and Estrogen naturally, though in vastly different quantities. Men produce ten times as much Testosterone as women and only 1/10th as much Estrogen. Dr. Felice Gersh is a gynecologist from Irvine, California, the creator of the Integrative Medical Group. Her opinions actively inform the content of this article.
The Effect of Testosterone on Muscle Mass
Testosterone is a potent anabolic hormone and is the reason why men put on muscle as quickly as they do, and the reason why men have a lower body fat percentage on average compared to women. Even if a boy and girl were treated identically from birth — fed the same foods, engaging in the same activities, etc. — the onset of puberty would lead to dramatic changes in the boy’s muscle mass, as a direct result of the influence of Testosterone.
On the other hand, Testosterone still plays a substantial role in shaping the female form and does influence muscle development in women as well. Because women produce so much less Testosterone than men, the effects of Testosterone Deficiency can be even more pronounced on the physiological form, leading to frailty in both muscle and bone tissue. These low Testosterone Levels are the reason why women are so prone to osteoporosis, while it’s a far lesser concern for men.
How Does Low Testosterone Affect Aging Women?
Women are highly susceptible to issues with frailty as a result of the feminine physiological structure. As women age, they are highly prone to problems with mobility, flexibility, and diminished bone and muscle mass. Sadly, all of these factors impair the ability of aging women to make the most of their lives. For this reason, maintaining healthy feminine Testosterone Levels is essential to ward off some of the worst aspects of aging in women.
When Does Low-T Become a Problem for Women?
Women lose Testosterone Production at a faster rate than men. Men lose 1-2% of their Testosterone annually beginning around age thirty. Women experience a much more dramatic drop in Testosterone Production. By the time a woman is forty, she produces only half as much Testosterone as she did at age twenty. It’s usually around age 40 when the effects of declining Testosterone Levels can become apparent.
Birth Control Can Lower Testosterone Levels
Even younger women can be impacted by suppressed Testosterone Levels. More than 25% of women in the United States take birth control pills. While Birth Control provides some clear and distinct benefits to women, it also affects the body’s ability to produce Testosterone. This is because birth control diminishes levels of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin in the bloodstream. SHBG is responsible for absorbing and distributing Testosterone and Estrogen through the blood. Because SHBG Levels fall while on Birth Control Pills, this impairs the body’s ability to get Testosterone where it needs to go to provide its benefits.
Testosterone and Sex Drive in Women
Like other Hormones such as Serotonin, Leptin, and Human Growth Hormone, Testosterone has receptors distributed throughout various systems of the human body. Also, like these other hormones, Testosterone provides vastly different benefits dependent upon where in the body that the hormone is activated. For example, Testosterone has powerful effects on psychological, cardiovascular, and sexual health. Everyone knows that Testosterone is essential for sexual desire, pleasure, and ability among men, but the same is true for women as well. In fact, without Testosterone, women would be unable to function sexually, just like men. Testosterone not only stimulates sexual desire in women, but it also encourages lubrication and sexual readiness, as well as activating sensitivity and pleasure centers.
Testosterone, Emotional Well-Being, and Cognitive Function
While we readily think of the anabolic effects of Testosterone on our muscles, the hormone also plays a similar role in our brains. Testosterone Deficiency in both sexes is strongly linked to depression and mood disorders. Among women, low Testosterone Levels are associated with feelings of ambient sadness and anxiety which suppress wellness and emotional health. Testosterone has also shown to have a high correlation with cognitive performance and memory in women. There have been studies conducted where women undergo Testosterone Supplementation, and these studies do appear to show promising benefits in the areas of mood and cognition.
Testosterone Deficiency also leads to fatigue, which not only contributes to physical frailty but psychological function as well. People with low energy are naturally more prone to diminished focus and impaired mood balance. Low Testosterone in women is strongly correlated with reduced well-being and quality of life.
The Future of Testosterone Replacement Therapy for Women
As of today, there are no FDA-Approved Testosterone Therapy formulations for women. Some Hormone Clinics provide proprietary Testosterone Regimens for women interested in restoring healthy Testosterone Levels. Testosterone is commonly paired with other Hormone Treatments designed to relieve the symptoms of menopause. In the coming years, it’s likely that research will produce clinical guidelines for female Testosterone Supplementation and more options for treatment.
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