Women and Testosterone
Today’s orthodox physician rarely thinks of low testosterone level as a cause of male problems, much less female problems.
However, it is true that testosterone is very important in women also. Aging can cause gradual reduction in all hormone levels into a deficiency situation, but certain conditions trigger earlier and more sudden drops. For example total hysterectomy and surgical removal of the ovaries cause widespread hormone deficiency to occur very quickly. The same thing happens, but slightly more slowly as a result of natural menopause. Toxicity due to heavy metals such as mercury, lead, or cadmium are associated with targeted rapid deterioration in the function of all hormone gland secretions. Autoimmune disease, and chronic infection including Lyme’s disease also adversely affect the endocrine system. Females are very much dependent on the ovaries for the production of their low, but vitally important testosterone levels. When ovarian function is impaired for whatever reason, testosterone levels plummet. Although the adrenal gland is able to produce a small amount of testosterone, many patients of both genders suffer from depleted adrenals (from stress and other lifestyle problems) that are incompetent to take up the slack of a failing gonad.
How does a low testosterone level manifest itself in women? Low sex drive is the clearest pointer, but increasing abdominal and generalized body fat, gradual and progressive loss of muscle tone and bone mass, fatigue and loss of vitality, and a sagging and wrinkling of the facial skin are additional indicators.
I also believe that many cases of depression, lack decisiveness, and passivity and resignation rather than action are associated with low testosterone in women. I always think of that case that Jonathan Wright told about years ago in his book on this subject. She was a late middle aged woman with a variety of physical and emotional problems who had been in psychotherapy for some time. After she was placed on testosterone, she immediately felt strong enough to get on with her life.
Apparently she decided her marriage was no longer good for her and filed for divorce. She also fired her psychiatrist. Does that sound scary to you? Perhaps? Don’t worry, because the patient became a happy, productive, vivacious person again, instead of a heaping gelatinous mass of indecisive protoplasm. I also always consider testosterone deficiency in women that are stuck at a certain weight and are unable to lose, despite adequate exercise, and in those with an unexplainably high cholesterol level…which testosterone replacement will correct. Many women are familiar with testosterone’s reputed control of the libidinous urge, and often consult me for this reason. Although replacement therapy is successful in replenishing the sex drive in about half of the women with low levels, the other half seemingly receive no benefit for that symptom. Why? The human libido, and the desire for sexual union with another person, are multi-factorial. Especially in women, stress and relationship issues, upbringing, attitudes, and prior experiences plus body image concerns may strongly color their sexual responsiveness. None-the-less testosterone replacement is important for many other reasons even in the sexual non-responders. For example, it will maintain tissue mass, skin elasticity, proper aerobic (oxygen based) metabolism, bone density, energy and vitality, and slow the aging of both body and brain.
Is testosterone replacement safe? Yes it is. The small doses used in women (sometimes we can even get the levels up adequately using DHEA alone instead of testosterone) will not normally cause unwanted body hair, acne, or undue aggressively. If any of those effects do occur, they are reversible by dosage adjustment. It’s value in osteoporosis/osteopenia treatment regimes can easily be documented by NTX urine testing previously reported in my newsletter. Usually the testosterone is administered as a skin cream on the inner arms, thighs, or neck. In low libido non-responders, I would consider using the clitoris as an alternative site of administration to enhance the neurologic sensitivity of the genitalia.
To summarize, testosterone is a hormone vital to optimum health, longevity, and vitality for women as well as men. If you are not in extreme health, come in and ask to have your testosterone level checked. I usually use salivary specimens now.