I want to talk with you about the use of testosterone in women.
Testosterone is known as the male hormone just as the female hormone known as estrogen. However, in women they also make small amounts of testosterone both at the level of the ovary and the adrenal gland that is the small gland located on the top of the kidney.
Most of the women have the peak of their testosterone level in their twenties. By age 40 it decreases to about 50%. So what does testosterone do? Testosterone is linked to a women sex drive or her libido. It is also involved in the sexual interest, arousal, and enjoyment from sexual intimacy with a woman’s partner.
So who would be candidates for testosterone replacement therapy in women? Women with low levels of testosterone, include:
- women who have had their ovaries removed,
- women who are on certain medications, that can lower the testosterone level
- women who have a low sex drive that is not caused by medications and is not associated with stress-related problems in their relationship
- women who have adrenal or pituitary gland decrease in some of their functions that can result in low testosterone
Now, there are some women who should not use testosterone. Those include:
- women who may or are planning to become pregnant
- women with breast or uterine cancer
- women with high cholesterol or heart disease
- women with a severe liver disease
Diagnosis of low testosterone
How is the diagnosis of low testosterone made in women? Usually, it is based on a woman complaining of lack of sex desire. She complains that she just does not have any interest in being sexually intimate with her partner. Then the diagnosis is confirmed by the simple blood test checking the testosterone level in the blood.
There are no long-term studies that have evaluated the long-term effects of using testosterone in women. Testosterone use in women is not FDA-approved. Testosterone use greater than six months has not been studied, and we do not know whether testosterone raises the risk of breast cancer, heart disease or clogging of blood in the pelvis.
The common side effects that usually occur when the dosage is too high is:
- acne or oily skin,
- hair loss from the scalp,
- unwanted hair growth on the face and body,
- shrinking of the breast size,
- a deepening of the voice.
- irregular menstrual cycles if they have been menstruating
- or there can be a slight increase in the size of the clitoris.
There is no standard dose or blood test for women who have a decrease in libido or a lack of sex drive. The dosing adjustments is usually based on the women’s symptoms.
How the women take testosterone? It is available on the patch, it is available in the topical gel.
So, in summary, low testosterone is a problem that is common for women. The diagnosis is easily made by blood test, and the treatment is easily accomplished in the right setting with women who are symptomatic and have a low testosterone level with testosterone replacement therapy.