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I Am a Woman with Low Testosterone Levels

Updated on April 22, 2022
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Dhingra
Written by
Kelly Jamrozy
4 sources cited
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“Testosterone is a male sex hormone. However, females also produce small amounts of it,” says Dr. Harshi Dhingra.

The hormone is released into the bloodstream by the ovaries and adrenal glands. It offers several benefits, including:

  • Helps with the production of new blood cells
  • Influences follicle-stimulating hormones that affect fertility
  • Enhances libido and sex drive
  • Maintains bone strength and growth
  • Increases muscle mass
  • Decreases body fat in post-menopausal women
  • Decreases vaginal atrophy
  • Supports cardiovascular health
Meet the Expert

Dr. Harshi Dhingra has an M.D. in Pathology.

She is a registered pathologist with over a decade of experience in diagnostic, clinical, research, and teaching work. She manages all aspects of pathology laboratory, including histopathology, cytology, hematology, and clinical pathology.

Currently, Dr. Dhingra is employed as faculty in a medical school and research center.

Can Women Have Low Levels Of Testosterone?

Yes, a woman can have low testosterone levels. Adult women need 0.5 to 2.4 nanomoles of testosterone per liter of blood. If your testosterone is below this range, you have low testosterone or androgen deficiency.

Keep in mind that testosterone levels can fluctuate throughout a woman's life.

For instance, a younger woman will produce more testosterone. But by the time she undergoes menopause (over 40), her testosterone is reduced by half.

Different amounts of testosterone are also released throughout a woman's menstrual cycle and at different times of the day.

Any time it falls below 0.5 nmol/L you have a testosterone deficiency.

Dr. Dhingra says that low testosterone is common among perimenopausal and post menopausal women. Other conditions and situations that can cause it include:

  • Undergoing cancer treatments (e.g., chemotherapy and radiotherapy)
  • Removal of ovaries (oophorectomy)
  • Pituitary gland diseases (e.g. Addison's)
  • Genetic disorders (e.g., congenital adrenal hyperplasia)
I Am a Woman with Low Testosterone Levels 3

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What Happens When a Woman Has Low Testosterone?

Testosterone insufficiency can affect a woman's physical and mental health, fertility, and sexual satisfaction.

Here are the symptoms of low testosterone in women:

  • Decreased sexual drive or libido
  • Fatigue or feeling tired at all times
  • Lack of motivation
  • Reduced sense of well-being
  • Feeling down or depressed
  • Loss of muscles
  • Muscle weakness
  • Not easily aroused during sex
  • Lack of vaginal lubrication
  • Thinning or patchy hair loss

Low testosterone in women can be mistaken for conditions with similar symptoms. These include depression, thyroid disease, chronic stress, anxiety, and menopause.

Because of this, many women suffering from androgen deficiency are misdiagnosed and given the wrong treatments.

Instead of being given testosterone replacement therapy, they are referred to counseling and psychotherapy.

Other Signs of Testosterone Imbalance in Women

Women may also have excess testosterone. It occurs when a woman has more than 2.4 nmol/L of blood serum testosterone at any given time.

Women with too much testosterone may experience the following:

  • Excess body hair growth
  • Increased facial hair
  • Balding scalp
  • Acne
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Reduced breast size
  • Developing a deeper voice
  • Gaining muscle
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Increased sexual desire
  • Mood changes
  • Infertility
  • Weight gain
  • Obesity

According to Dr. Dhingra, women with these symptoms can be evaluated with an at-home testosterone test.

"“Home testing kits are efficient and provide accurate results. False negatives only happen if you don’t do the tests properly," she adds.

Causes of Low Testosterone in Women

There are two primary reasons women develop low testosterone levels. They include:

Gland Issues

If a problem develops with the ovaries or the adrenal or pituitary glands, it can affect testosterone levels.

Gland disorders that alter testosterone levels include:

  • Adrenal gland problems
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Menopause and Aging

Women’s testosterone levels naturally decrease over time. This is because the ovaries produce fewer hormones.

In some cases, the medicines used to treat menopause symptoms can cause testosterone reduction.

Additionally, some women experience low testosterone during perimenopause. This begins years before menopause sets in.

Treating Women with Low Testosterone

There are several ways to treat low testosterone in women. These include pharmacological approaches, as well as lifestyle changes.

A combination of several treatments is usually recommended:

  • Improving the quality of sleep
  • Drug therapy
  • Testosterone supplements

Unfortunately, testosterone treatment may trigger unwanted side effects. Some of the most common side effects of testosterone treatment include:

  • Acne
  • Hair loss
  • Deepening voice
  • Excess facial hair
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Fluid retention

Some doctors don't recommend testosterone supplements due to the side effects. In extreme cases, treatment might be necessary. An example is when testosterone imbalance causes hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

To increase testosterone levels, many women use less aggressive forms of treatment. These include:

  • Managing stress
  • Sex therapy
  • Dietary improvements
  • Increasing quantity and quality of sleep
  • DHEA supplements

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid hormone that is naturally produced in the adrenal glands. However, DHEA and testosterone supplements have the same side effects.

There is insufficient data about low testosterone treatment in women. Health experts agree supplemental testosterone is necessary for some. However, the side effects make it a last resort in many cases.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

A common treatment option for low testosterone is a drug called Estratest.

Estratest is a combination of synthetic testosterone and estrogen. It is typically given to menopausal women.

Some have had success using testosterone therapy drugs. Others have found it did little to improve their low testosterone symptoms.

Another common hormone replacement therapy is testosterone injections. It comes in patch, pellet, or gel forms. These are the same treatments given to men with low testosterone levels.

Many of these products contain high levels of testosterone. They raise a woman’s testosterone level too much. While the treatment might improve symptoms, it can lead to a new set of symptoms.

Talk to your doctor if you think testosterone replacement therapy might be right for you.

I Am a Woman with Low Testosterone Levels 4
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How Do I Know If My Testosterone Levels Are Too High or Too Low?

Undergoing medical testing will help determine your testosterone levels. Your doctor can conduct a simple blood test to measure your hormone levels.

However, tests administered by a doctor can be expensive. They might not be covered by medical insurance. There are at-home hormone tests available that are more reasonably priced.

Testosterone testing is recommended if you are:

  • Experiencing any symptoms related to low testosterone
  • Close to entering menopausal stage
  • Experiencing menopause

LetsGetChecked PCOS Test is an at-home testing option for women with too much testosterone. It is known to be one of the most effective tests available.

It can help diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). While it is normally used to check for excess testosterone, women can also use it to test low testosterone levels.

Alternatively, you can take the EverlyWell Testosterone Test to check your free testosterone levels.

If you decide to take an at-home test, you can discuss your results with your healthcare provider.

An at-home testosterone test is right for people who:

  • Are not yet ready for a full medical evaluation
  • Wants to know what's causing their symptoms

Testosterone in women can be a complex issue. This is especially true because it’s not considered a “typical” female health concern.

If you suspect hormonal imbalance you can undergo testing with your doctor or at home to get an idea of where you stand.

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Dr. Dhingra
Dr. Harshi Dhingra
Medical Reviewer
Dr Harshi Dhingra is a licensed medical doctor with a specialization in Pathology. Dr. Dhingra has of over a decade in diagnostic, clinical, research and teaching work, including managing all sections of Pathology laboratory including histopathology, cytology, hematology and clinical Pathology.
Kelly Jamrozy
Kelly Jamrozy
Content Contributor
Kelly has experience working with clients in a variety of industries, including legal, medical, marketing, and travel. Her goal is to share important information that people can use to make decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones. From choosing the best treatment programs to improving dental and vision health to finding the best method for helping anyone who is struggling with health issues, she hopes to share what she learns through informative content.
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