Studies show that maintaining testosterone levels in males confers powerful anti-aging effects. Testosterone-deficient men develop abdominal obesity (pot bellies) and diminished muscle mass, along with a loss of sexual interest and performance ability. Low testosterone is also associated with heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, and depression.
Doctors are slowly recognizing the benefits of testosterone therapy for aging men. In addition, women also become testosterone deficient. Studies also show that increasing testosterone levels in aging women restores sexual drive, arousal, and frequency of sexual fantasies. In fact, low testosterone levels in women of all ages seem to suppress libido and cause sexual dysfunction. Restoring youthful testosterone in women has been shown to improve mood and well being, and to provide many other health-enhancing benefits.
Safe and inexpensive natural approaches also can increase testosterone levels in women. This offers an alternative to prescription based testosterone therapy that is often overlooked.
Testosterone in Men and Women
Although it is known that testosterone production in the testes of boys brings about the changes that lead to manhood, it is not well known that women also produce testosterone, at about one-tenth the level of men.. This is produced in their ovaries and adrenal glands. Levels of testosterone peak in women in their twenties and decline thereafter. Women not only experience a decline in testosterone production, but also in hormones such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which dramatically falls after menopause.
Doctors have always known that women produce testosterone. However, most have believed that testosterone is not important for women. Only levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen were thought to have any bearing on a woman’s well being. Over the last decade, more evidence has been brought forth suggesting that testosterone is a very important hormone for women. It keeps women fit, lean, and sexually active.
One of the most widely disseminated studies showing testosterone’s importance in maintaining a woman’s general well being and sexual functioning was published in 2000 in the New England Journal of Medicine.1
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the effects of transdermal testosterone patches on 75 women aged 31 to 56 years who had undergone a hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries). Hysterectomies, with or without an oophorectomy, significantly decrease circulating levels of testosterone. Over three consecutive 12-week periods, the women were given placebo, 150-mcg testosterone patches, or 300-mcg testosterone patches. The unequivocal result was that women who received 300-mcg patches showed significant improvement in sexual function, mood, and general well being.
Benefits for Women’s Sexuality
Most mainstream physicians now believe that testosterone replacement in women who have had hysterectomies and/or oophorectomies can enhance their mood and well being. However, most still scoff at the idea that testosterone replacement is of use to women who have their uterus and ovaries intact.
Fortunately for women all over the world, Dr. Susan Davis is one of those rare researchers who is examining ways in which testosterone supplementation can benefit women. At the Jean Hailes Foundation, a not-for-profit organization in Australia dedicated to women’s health issues, Dr. Davis and her colleagues have been studying testosterone’s importance in women’s overall health. In a 1999 article in the journal Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. Davis offered a detailed report on testosterone replacement therapy in both pre- and postmenopausal women. In women who are postmenopausal or have had oophorectomies; judicious testosterone therapy has produced a direct and sustained improvement in sexual drive, arousal, and frequency of sexual fantasies. Dr. Davis acknowledged that treating women in their twenties and thirties with testosterone for low libido is controversial, but also stated that its use should not be discounted. According to Dr. Davis, testosterone supplementation can significantly benefit young and otherwise healthy women with low levels of testosterone who suffer from low libidos and sexual dysfunction.
In a recent article published in 2001, Dr. Davis wrote that testosterone appears to be quite important in maintaining a woman’s energy level and sense of well being,despite age. Low testosterone levels in pre- and postmenopausal women can diminish motivation, induce fatigue, and contribute to low libido. Women in their twenties who are taking birth control pills may suffer from low testosterone and its effects, as oral contraceptives are known to lower levels. While studies show that testosterone supplementation in postmenopausal women who have not undergone hysterectomies and/or oopherectomies can significantly improve sexual drive, arousal, and frequency of sexual fantasies, no such studies have been conducted on pre-menopausal women. Dr. Davis states, however, that it is the clinical experience of the author [Dr. Davis] that a subset of pre-menopausal women with sexual dysfunction and reduced circulating androgen [testosterone] levels significantly benefits from judicious parenteral testosterone replacement.
Take a look at some of the effects of testosterone on both strength and fitness
- healthier body composition
- less body fat
- reduction in abdominal obesity
helps maintain lean muscle mass
- improved sexual function
- reduction in heart disease (especially, in women who have had a hysterectomy)
Does Testosterone Inhibit Breast Cancer?
The words “breast cancer” can produce an involuntary shudder in most women, and for good reason: breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and despite billions of dollars spent on research and treatment since the 1970s, it has been steadily increasing in incidence. It is estimated that in 2004, approximately 300,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 46,000 will die from the disease.
Many researchers believe that high estrogen levels are a major risk factor for developing breast cancer, and some have postulated that high testosterone levels in women also may pose an increased risk for breast cancer. On the other hand, other researchers believe the association between high testosterone levels and breast cancer in some limited studies may reflect that testosterone and estrogen levels are highly correlated in women, as testosterone can be a precursor for estrogen synthesis. Multiple studies now show that testosterone may help guard women against breast cancer. A study in 2000 looked at the effects of testosterone and tamoxifen (a widely used chemotherapeutic agent for breast cancer) on breast cell stimulation. The study showed that breast cells exposed to estrogen showed cancer-like rapid growth, but showed significantly less growth when also exposed to testosterone. A more recent study published in 2003 also showed that testosterone significantly inhibits breast cell growth, leading the authors to conclude that “… androgens [testosterone] may protect against breast cancer, by analogy with P4 [progesterone] effects upon the uterus.”