Did you know that there are perks that come from using testosterone in menopause? Most people associate testosterone therapy with male health; however, studies have shown that women going through menopause and peri-menopause sometimes experience benefits from bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT) that includes testosterone in addition to oestrogen and progesterone.
While most women don’t realize it, the ovaries produce testosterone in addition to oestrogen and progesterone. Testosterone is an androgen (male sex) hormone. In addition to the female genitalia, androgen receptors are in the breast tissues, heart, blood, lungs, brain, spinal cord, nerves, bladder, endocrine system, skin, bone, muscle and fat. All of this means that testosterone affects much more than sexual arousal. In fact, it means that testosterone affects many aspects of the female body and mental functions. Contrary to popular belief, testosterone is the most abundant and active biologic hormone in the female body during lifetime.
Some of the effects of low testosterone are those that most women associate with “getting old”. Here are some common symptoms experienced by post-menopausal women:
- Fatigue. If you are always tired even after you wake up after a good night’s sleep, you may have low testosterone levels. Low testosterone levels also lead to disrupted sleep patterns. Ask your doctor to evaluate your full medical condition to rule out other fatigue conditions like diabetes, fibromyalgia or MS.
- Weight gain. It is possible that low testosterone levels contribute to weight gain after menopause. However, it is also true that our poor eating habits, lesser ability to process and store protein, and our sedentary life styles as we age make us more prone to weight gain. Check with your doctor as to whether your weight gain is hormone related.
- Lower sexual interest. Conditions associated with lower sexual interest can find a cause in many types of medical conditions and illnesses, such as diabetes. While popular belief often associates low libido with a decrease in oestrogen levels, it can also be caused by low testosterone, adrenal fatigue, and many other causes. Check with your doctor to help you decide if testosterone therapy is what would benefit your health.
- Moods. Testosterone therapy helps with anxiety issues and irritability. Some doctors have used testosterone for 60 years to treat symptoms of PMS.
- Hair loss. There is no evidence that testosterone therapy or low testosterone levels cause hair loss in men or women. We know that stress, as well as medications and poor diet, can cause hair loss; evidence does exist, however, that testosterone treatment increases scalp hair growth in women.
- Bone and muscle loss. Adding testosterone to a regimen of BHRT can reduce bone and muscle loss in post-menopausal women.
How is testosterone available? Correcting low testosterone levels in women is possible through a patch or a transdermal cream made of bio-identical testosterone. Your doctor will modify the amount of testosterone applied depending on the effects and the outcome of your blood testing levels. Best practices requires supervision by your physician to test and monitor your condition while using BHRT testosterone.
As an addition to BHRT therapy, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) compounded with vaginal creams can help increase libido in certain cases. DHEA does this naturally by turning into testosterone in a woman’s body and, therefore, sometimes has a positive effect on women with low testosterone levels. DHEA is available in the UK only with a doctor’s prescription. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for DHEA therapy combined with the transdermal cream.
If you want to learn more about the myths associated with testosterone, read the article in maturitas.org entitled “Testosterone Therapy in Women: Myths and Misconceptions.” To talk more about this, or anything else, please contact us.