Women and Low Testosterone
Many women have no idea their bodies even produce testosterone, let alone know what a vital role testosterone plays in their health, happiness, and their overall well being. The two main sex hormones, often thought of as men's and women's, are of course testosterone and estrogen. Both men and women produce testosterone and estrogen (as well as all other "male" and "female" sex hormones), and healthy, appropriate levels of each are needed for a healthy body in everyone.
Increasingly (since the 1950's) testosterone levels have been dropping across the board, in women and men. Today, levels are a mere fraction of what they were 20 years ago, and many of the health concerns that we commonly associate with old age are in fact indicative of low testosterone levels (as we will see). Adding to this, estrogen levels have been steadily increasing, due to the proliferation (again since the 1950's) of xeno-estrogenic substances: chemically made products which have an estrogen like effect on the body (and are stored in fat tissue). In women and in men, when testosterone is low and estrogen is high, the two conditions exacerbate each other, intensifying symptoms.
Testosterone is often thought of as the "male" hormone, but it is more adapt to think of it as the vitality, or youth, hormone. In women and men alike, in the adult body, testosterone is needed for:
- Proper regulation of adrenal function;
- Energy, both physical and mental energy;
- Adequate sex drive (libido)
- Muscle maintenance and development;
- Bone health and strength;
- Maintaining cardiovascular health;
- Attention, memory, and spatial ability;
- Prevention of cognitive decline and Alzheimer
Without healthy levels of testosterone, one is exposed to higher rates of the flip side of the above list. Where there is proper regulation of adrenal function when testosterone levels are high, when they are low there is poor adrenal function. And so one and so forth with the entire list (and anything we missed).
Women produce testosterone in the ovaries and also in small amounts in the adrenal glands, just as men produce testosterone in the testes and (also in small amounts) the adrenal glands. While many conditions can lead to low testosterone production in women, and aging also lowers the production of testosterone, certain disease and conditions are the cause of most cases.
Maybe people do not realize that diabetes and pre-diabetes (metabolic syndrome) can cause a reduction in testosterone. Obesity also reduces testosterone production. In addition, any diseases of the ovaries will cause production issues, since the majority of testosterone is being produces in the ovaries. If course, having a full or partial hysterectomy (surgical menopause), or the removal of an ovary or both, will cause low levels of testosterone. Staten drugs, as well as other pharmaceutical drugs, lead to a decrease in sex hormone production.
For many women, low levels of testosterone is not a concern. Not because it shouldn't be, but simply because there is little popular knowledge about the role of this hormone on women's health. In fact, for women and men, the science is just starting to understand the vital role that testosterone has on the function of the entire body.
The follow is a list of common signs and symptoms of low testosterone levels in women. Read though the list and you will see how prevalent many of these conditions are. Inadequate testosterone production is easily address through diet, lifestyle, and proper supplementation with herbs.
- Low or non-existent sex drive (libido);
- Inability to achieve orgasm (anorgasmia);
- Hot flashes;
- Subcutaneous fat and weight gain around the midsection (belly);
- Loss of muscle mass and general strength;
- Osteoporosis and other catabolism disorders;
- Blood sugar irregularities;
- Increased rates of aging and premature aging;
- General loss of vitality;
A greater understanding of the vital role that testosterone plays in the female body is imperative for promoting health and longevity. Without a greater understanding, more and more women will fall helplessly into the throws of many conditions that are taken for granted as a fact of life for the aging body--when they are far from it.
Like I said below, issues of low testosterone production are easily addressed through diet, lifestyle, and proper supplementation with herbs.
A first step approach would be eliminating all trans-fats from from diet and cutting back on all refined carbohydrates, while simultaneously increasing the consumption of healthy fats, including high quality source of omega 3 fatty acids. The diet should also be high in insoluble fiber, which helps to detoxify chemical estrogen otherwise stored in the body and interfere with testosterone. And try to eliminate foods which contain phyto-estrogen, which also interfere with testosterone. See our blog Estrogen Detox for more information on phyto-estrogen.
Cholesterol is the building block of sex hormones. Without cholesterol there is no testosterone. While the body does produce cholesterol on its own, when working properly, many report an increase in testosterone, and the alleviation of many of the symptoms associated with low testosterone, after increasing their dietary cholesterol intake.
A few select herbs are well known and documented (though clinical trials and other forms of research) to significantly increase testosterone production. These should be used for three months minimum before their efficacy is determined.
- Chinese Panax Ginseng;
- Tribulus terrestris;
- Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma Longifolia);
- Cistanche tubulosa (Desert Ginseng);
To learn more about increasing testosterone with herbs, watch these two videos by Ryan Wade of RAW Forest Foods.