Testosterone is a male sex hormone produced in a woman’s ovaries in small amounts as well. Combined with estrogen, the female sex hormone, testosterone helps with the growth, maintenance, and repair of a woman’s reproductive tissues, bone mass, and human behaviors.
The normal ranges of testosterone levels for females are:
|Age (in years)||Testosterone range (in nanograms per deciliter)|
Like estrogen and progesterone, testosterone normally declines with age. However, because women make testosterone in the ovaries and the adrenal glands, a low level of testosterone could indicate a problem with the function of either organ. Estrogen replacement therapy can also lower the level of testosterone.
If your testosterone level is low for your age and menstrual status, then you could be experiencing symptoms of low testosterone including:
- Decreased libido
- Muscle weakness
- Depressed mood
- Weight gain
Testosterone also has some health-protective roles after menopause and low levels can increase some areas of health risk including:
- Bone loss/osteoporosis
- Muscle wasting/sarcopenia
- Heart disease
Potential ways to increase testosterone:
There may also be some ways to boost testosterone naturally, including:
- eating a more balanced diet focused on fresh foods
- avoiding overeating
- avoiding obesity
- doing regular exercise
- getting plenty of sleep each night
Some foods can boost testosterone because they are high in certain vitamins or minerals, such as vitamin D or zinc, which are associated with increasing testosterone. The following foods can boost testosterone levels:
- Beans (white/kidney/black)
- Pomegranate juice
Depending on your age, consider testosterone HRT or supplements that support low testosterone symptoms include Zinc, Maca, Tribulus, and Shatavari. If there are no symptoms of low testosterone, also carefully look at the 5a-metabolism and testosterone's downstream metabolites, 5a-androstanediol and 5b-androstanediol to confirm a low androgenic state.
If you are of Asian descent:
There is a very common genetic variant in this population that, if present, disallows much of testosterone from being converted into the water-soluble form found in urine. Actual testosterone levels, if this genetic variant is present, would be better assessed in a blood serum test (ideally total and free testosterone). This variant metabolism has no known clinical impact and impacts testosterone, 5a-DHT and 5b-androstanediol. It is not known to impact epi-testosterone, 5a-androstanediol or ther androgens as they are metabolized by a different enzyme.
If your testosterone level is very low (less than 1 ng per mg):
Androgens (DHEA and testosterone) in women help with muscle and weight maintenance, memory and brain function, mood, libido and a sense of wellbeing. If testosterone is very low, or low but without symptoms of androgen deficiency, it is best to test serum levels to confirm before starting a treatment program due to the potential of falsely low urinary testosterone. Lifestyle and diet modifications alone could be helpful to increase androgens such as:
- high intensity interval training
- DHEA or TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) if appropriate and indicated.
- Tribulus, shatavari, maca
- Mitochondrial support and/or zinc
Symptoms of too much testosterone in females:
An imbalance of testosterone can have damaging effects on a woman’s health and sex drive.
Increased testosterone levels can cause symptoms that effect a woman’s physical appearance, such as:
- too much body hair, specifically facial hair
- enlarged clitoris
- decreased breast size
- deepening of the voice
- increased muscle mass
- irregular menstrual cycles
- low libido
- mood changes
- high testosterone can also cause infertility and obesity in some extreme cases.
Numerous diseases or disorders can cause hormonal changes in women. The most common causes of high testosterone levels in women are hirsutism, polycystic ovary syndrome, and congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
Hirsutism -- Hirsutism is a condition of unwanted, male-pattern hair growth in women.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) -- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia -- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a group of inherited genetic disorders that affect the adrenal glands
Treatment depends on the cause, but generally includes medication or lifestyle changes.
Making certain lifestyle changes can affect testosterone levels. Starting an exercise or weight loss program can help because losing weight can improve symptoms.
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