In This Article
In This Article
“While testosterone is primarily known as a male sex hormone, females also produce it in small amounts,” says Dr. Harshi Dhingra.
Testosterone plays several important functions in the body, including:
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. However, it isn't exclusive to men. Women also have it in smaller amounts, helping their bodies with several functions.
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.
Yes, a woman can also experience low testosterone levels.
Adult women need 0.5 to 2.4 nanomoles of testosterone per liter of blood.2 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 other times. However, a testosterone level below 0.5 nmol/L indicates a testosterone deficiency.
Dr. Dhingra states low testosterone is common among perimenopausal and post-menopausal women. Studies show from ages 20 to 40, women's testosterone levels drop by about half of what they were at age 20.3
As a woman approaches menopause, her ovaries produce less testosterone than the average midcycle production.
Other conditions and situations that can cause it include:
Women can also have low testosterone levels—their testosterone production changes throughout their lifetime. A younger woman produces more testosterone and lessens as she goes through menopause.
Testosterone insufficiency can affect a woman's physical and mental health. It can also influence her fertility and sexual satisfaction.
Here are the symptoms of low testosterone in women:4
Low testosterone in women can be mistaken for conditions with similar symptoms. These include depression, thyroid disease, chronic stress, anxiety, and menopause.
It leads to misdiagnosis and giving unsuitable treatment for women with low testosterone. For instance, they are referred to counseling and psychotherapy instead of being given hormone therapy.
Low testosterone in women can affect many areas of their health. These include physical, mental, and sexual health. The symptoms of testosterone deficiency can be mixed up with other conditions, which may affect its treatment.
It can happen that women can have high testosterone. It occurs when a woman has more than 2.4 nmol/L of blood serum testosterone at any time.
Women with too much testosterone may experience the following:
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.
Low testosterone in women can result in more body fat, especially around the belly. While it can be a reason for weight gain, low testosterone isn’t the only reason why women gain weight. Estrogen and progesterone also have an impact on women’s weight.
Low testosterone in women can make them lose muscle, feel tired, and have changes in appetite. All of this can make women likelier to gain weight.
Hormonal imbalances, like low testosterone, can be tied to conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can also lead to weight gain.
Weight gain isn't just about hormones. It's affected by a lot of factors like genetics, the food you eat, how active you are, and your daily habits. If you're worried about low testosterone and how it might be affecting your weight, talk to a doctor.
The two primary reasons women experience low testosterone levels include:
A problem with the ovaries or the adrenal or pituitary glands can affect your testosterone levels.
Gland disorders that alter testosterone levels include:
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.
Health issues with the ovaries, adrenal, or pituitary glands can affect testosterone levels. Menopause and aging also contribute to low testosterone deficiency.
There are several ways to treat low testosterone in women. A combination of several treatments is usually recommended, including:
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid hormone naturally produced in the adrenal glands.5 However, DHEA and testosterone supplements have the same side effects.
Information about low testosterone treatment in women is still insufficient. But, health experts agree supplemental testosterone is necessary for some. However, the side effects make it a last resort in many cases.
Treating low testosterone levels in women involves lifestyle changes and taking hormone supplements. But, the data about low testosterone treatment is limited. Still, health experts agree that testosterone supplements are essential in some cases.
The two common testosterone replacement therapy includes Estratest and testosterone injections.
It is a combination of synthetic testosterone and estrogen. It is typically given to menopausal women.
Some have had success using this testosterone therapy drug. Others have found it did little to improve their low testosterone symptoms.
These come 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 new symptoms.
Talk to your doctor if you think testosterone replacement therapy might be right for you.
Estratest and Testosterone injections are common testosterone replacement therapy plans. Depending on how her body reacts to the medication, it can improve a woman's testosterone production.
Unfortunately, testosterone treatment may trigger unwanted side effects. Some of the most common side effects of testosterone treatment include:
Some doctors may not 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.
Testosterone treatment may cause unpleasant side effects, like acne, hair loss, or changes in the voice. Some doctors may hold off on testosterone supplements. But, if imbalance causes extreme symptoms like hypoactive sexual desire disorder, they may recommend it.
Undergoing medical testing will help determine your testosterone levels. Your doctor can conduct a simple blood test to measure your hormone levels.
However, doctor-administered tests can be expensive. They might not be covered by medical insurance.
Fortunately, there are at-home hormone tests available that are more reasonably priced.
Testosterone testing is recommended if you are:
You can look into at-home tests as a more convenient option. Some of them can help diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
If you take an at-home test, you can discuss your results with your healthcare provider.
An at-home testosterone test could be beneficial for people who:
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 for an assessment.
A testosterone test can help determine if you have low or high testosterone levels. You can choose to do it in a medical setting with a doctor. You can also test in your home using at-home testosterone test kits.