Although Testosterone is generally viewed as a male-only hormone, women’s ovaries also make small amounts of testosterone. It helps many organs and body processes in women.
The pituitary gland in the brain controls the amount of testosterone the body makes.
Some testosterone is called free if it is not attached to proteins.
Free testosterone and albumin-bound testosterone are also referred to as bioavailable testosterone. This is the testosterone that is easily used by your body.
Reference ranges for females:
|Age:||T Level (ng/dL):|
|6 mos.-9 yrs.||< 7-20|
|10-11 yrs.||< 7-44|
|12-16 yrs.||< 7-75|
|Avg. adult female||15-70|
Low testosterone can cause one or more of the following symptoms in women:
- muscle weakness
- sleep disturbances
- reduced sex drive
- decreased sexual satisfaction
- weight gain
- fertility issues
- irregular menstrual cycles
- vaginal dryness
- loss of bone density
It is important to note that research in this area is still limited.
Because the symptoms linked to low testosterone are so common, a doctor will look for signs of other issues or conditions before making a diagnosis.
The two main causes of low testosterone are:
- diminishing levels of the hormone as a normal result of menopause and aging
- problems with the ovaries or the pituitary or adrenal glands.
Testosterone decreases naturally as a woman ages. Levels of other hormones, such as estrogen, also reduce over time, especially when a woman reaches menopause.
Around the time that menopause begins, a woman may be more likely to have less testosterone because the ovaries are producing fewer hormones.
Also, medications that combat the side effects of menopause can lower testosterone levels. One such medicine is oral estrogen.
Problems with the ovaries and adrenal glands can also cause lower levels of testosterone. A woman may have reduced levels if her ovaries have been removed, for example, or if she has adrenal insufficiency, which means that the adrenal glands do not work correctly.
There is currently a lack of research into the treatment of low testosterone in women. Many doctors are much more concerned about testosterone levels that are too high.
If a woman reports any of the symptoms listed above, a doctor will likely check for other, more common, conditions first.
If a woman has not yet reached menopause, the doctor will likely advise on the best time to test the testosterone levels. This is because they fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle.
Women with high levels of testosterone may have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This condition can cause:
- Lack of menstruation
- Blood sugar problems
- Extra hair growth, especially on the face
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