Do Women Suffer From Low Testosterone Levels?
There are many people who have hormonal imbalances that impact their health and quality of life. It is not just low estrogen at menopause for women or low testosterone (low T) for some men; all genders can experience various low or high levels of certain hormones. While there is more focus on men with low T, women can also have lower levels of this male sex hormone. Here is what you should know about low T in women, including the causes, symptoms and treatments.
Both men and women make testosterone in their adrenal glands and their testes or ovaries, respectively. The pituitary gland in the brain controls the production of testosterone, regulating when more or less is needed in the body. Men make less testosterone as they get older, which is referred to as andropause. This is equivalent to menopause in women, but it is a slower decline versus the fairly quick drop in estrogen in women. Women also have a decline in testosterone levels as they get older, which is normal. However, some women (and men) have a dramatic dip in this male sex hormone that can result in undesirable symptoms.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Women
You will often hear about low T symptoms in men, from erectile dysfunction and low libido to weight gain and fatigue. For women, there are similar symptoms. The problem is that low T often goes undiagnosed in women as the symptoms can mimic menopause or other issues. Women with abnormally low testosterone can experience:
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Loss in muscle mass and tone
- Poor circulation – often experiencing cold feet or constantly cold all over
- Fatigue, even when getting enough sleep
- Bone loss, as well as changes in hair (loss or thinning), skin and nails
- Mood changes, especially depression or anxiety
- Loss of mental focus
- Lower sex drive or libido
If you know the symptoms of menopause, these can sound very familiar. Weight gain, fatigue, diminished sex drive, moodiness, osteoporosis and insomnia all overlap both menopause and low T in symptoms. Many doctors will assume symptoms are due to estrogen levels instead of checking testosterone levels. To determine the right hormone therapy, it is important to pinpoint the cause and supplement the hormone responsible for the symptoms. The goal is hormone balance that is optimum for your age and gender to help you feel and look your best.
Causes of Low T in Women
Women have declines in testosterone (similar to andropause) as they get older, as well as a decline in estrogen, growth and other hormones. Like men, the decline is slow, a small percentage lower each year. Aging is the main cause of lower hormone production, but there are many other factors that can impact testosterone and other hormones. A sharp decline in testosterone can be caused by a variety of factors.
- Dysfunctional pituitary gland
- Adrenal gland dysfunction
- Ovarian dysfunction
- Certain diseases like diabetes and autoimmune disorders
- Medications such as hypertension drugs and opiates
- Birth control or other long-term hormonal therapy
- Tumors on the adrenal or pituitary glands
- Chemotherapy or radiation
- Insulin resistance
- Nutritional deficiencies
While many of these causes are not preventable, one of the major causes of low T in women is obesity. It is a vicious circle – weight gain causes low testosterone and low T makes it difficult to lose weight. However, losing weight can help increase natural testosterone levels, but many women struggle to do it on their own due to weight loss resistance. Even certain weight-loss diets can increase the likelihood of low T, especially those that are too low in protein or too high in fat content.
Restoring Normal Testosterone Levels in Women
There are ways to increase testosterone levels through both lifestyle changes and medical treatments. Each woman may need a different treatment plan depending on the cause of her low T. For example, if the pituitary or adrenal glands are dysfunctional, it may not be possible to stimulate higher natural production. Hormone replacement therapy may be needed for those individuals, while others may be able to naturally improve their testosterone levels.
Obese individuals can increase their testosterone with weight loss. Reducing calorie intake and increasing exercise are not always enough to lose weight if a person also has low testosterone. It may require a medical weight loss plan paired with hormone therapy to obtain the desired results.
Low protein diets can result in lower levels of testosterone. Increasing lean protein in the diet can help women with low T improve their natural production. Most women should be eating a minimum of 60 grams of protein a day, more for active women.
Regular exercise can help reduce excess weight and improve testosterone production. Strength training to build muscle is specifically beneficial for increasing testosterone in women with low T.
Stress can impact the production of testosterone in both men and women. Finding ways to reduce stress through therapy, meditation, relaxation techniques and other methods may help improve low T in women.
Addressing Underlying Conditions
There are many disorders and diseases that can contribute to dysfunctional adrenal, pituitary and ovary production. Receiving treatment for medical conditions causing the hormonal imbalance may restore normal hormone production in women with low T.
There are options for balancing hormone levels. While most hormone replacement therapy revolves around estrogen and progesterone, there are testosterone therapies for women. Treatment begins with lab testing to determine if the patient has a hormonal imbalance. If there are low levels of hormones, hormone therapy and other treatments may be recommended.
Do You Have Symptoms of Low T?
If you are concerned that you have low testosterone levels due to weight gain, low energy, decreased libido or other symptoms, it may be time to undergo hormone testing. Sarah Quinn at Arcadia Wellness Center is an NP with extensive experience and expertise in hormone therapy. She can perform the needed testing to determine if you have a hormone imbalance, whether it is low T or diminished estrogen, progesterone or other factors. Nutritional testing may also be performed to determine if you have any deficiencies that may be contributing to your symptoms. Once your testing is complete, she will discuss the best treatment plan to get you back to feeling more like yourself. Options may include:
- Nutritional supplements
- Dietary changes
- Medical weight loss – we offer an effective medical weight loss plan at our facility
- Hormone therapy
- Stress reduction therapy
Every patient receives a personalized treatment plan to obtain a balanced hormone profile and improved overall health. Many women quickly begin feeling more like their old selves again once their hormones are at an optimum level. Energy can increase, weight loss is easier, libido improves, and even their skin, hair and nails can look healthier. Achieving weight loss, reduced stress and improved fitness can also contribute to better health and overall wellness.
Hormone Balancing for Women in Phoenix
Whether you are concerned about low T or you are experiencing uncomfortable menopause symptoms, come see us at Arcadia Wellness Center. We have a myriad of options to help you achieve better health. We offer hormone and nutritional testing, medical weight loss, hormone replacement therapy and many other wellness treatments. To schedule your hormone balance consultation, contact our office in Phoenix, AZ to book your appointment.