It is well known that testosterone is the quintessential male hormone. Estrogen on the other hand is the prime female hormone. However both are present in either gender, albeit in varying quantities. Low T is a well-known problem with men and has many detrimental effects on the male body. Men treat low T using various methods: hormone replacement therapy, gels, specific foods or searching for the best testosterone boosters on the market, in the form of pills or supplements. The issue of Low T and High T in women hasn’t been explored enough, particularly low T. Recent findings suggest that healthy testosterone levels are equally important for women as they are for men. Crucially, unhealthy testosterone levels can have adverse effect on female fertility. We will now briefly outline the links between female health and testosterone, with emphasis low testosterone and fertility.
Female bodies naturally produce testosterone, usually 8-10 times less than male bodies. It is produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands. Testosterone has much the same effects as on men: it increases sexual drive, fosters hair growth, increases aggression, keeps bones healthy, helps build muscle mass, boosts energy and happiness etc. Recommended T level for women are of course much lower than for men, but testosterone is still necessary. There is no definitive answer on what constitutes normal T levels for women. Currently, it is generally accepted that T levels below 25ng/dl in women under the age of 50, are considered unhealthy. A lot of testosterone comes from chemical precursors such as androstenedione, which can be converted both into estrogen and testosterone.
Low T and Women’s Health
There are many detrimental effects on the female body. One of the clearest symptoms of low T in women is HSDD or hypoactive sexual desire disorder. This is characterized by a persistent lack of desire for sex. What can cause this? There are numerous causes and we will just briefly mention the key ones. First on our list is the pill. The invention of the birth control pill revolutionized contraception and brought about the era of female sexual liberation. It is therefore a cruel twist of fate that the pill is one of the leading causes of low T in women. The pill does this by spurring the production of steroid hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG binds up testosterone, which means that there is not enough unbound testosterone to be used by the body. This causes the female libido to plummet and the effects could be long-lasting. Additional adverse effects of Low T include: weight gain, decrease in muscle mass, depression, osteoporosis etc. Many other pills, particularly antidepressants have an adverse effect on testosterone as well. Unfortunately this is rarely ever mentioned on the label or by the doctor prescribing them. Soy milk also boosts SHBG production with detrimental effect on T levels. Vegetarian diet can have a bad influence on testosterone. Many veggies contain: daidzein, enterolactone, and equol. These chemicals block testosterone access to the hormone receptors in the cells. Low T also negatively affects female fertility.
Low T and Female Fertility
Couples in our time often have trouble conceiving. There are many reasons for this from stress to deciding to conceive in later stages of our lives. Be that as it may, couples opt for IVF (in vitro fertilization) as way to help them conceive. IVF drugs are administered to women for the purpose of boosting follicle production. However this is ineffective with women who have low ovarian reserves. A recent study, conducted on mice, has concluded that increasing testosterone levels boosts production of mature egg-containing follicles and enhances egg production during ovulation. It is believed that androgens (male hormones) prevent follicles from self-destructing and they also make follicles more receptive to follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH, which increases follicle growth. This is crucial for women with diminished ovarian reserves. Follicles are stronger and more receptive, which is what they need when undergoing IVF. Further studies however will need to be conducted.
What should be done?
Low T has many adverse effects on both men and women. If you decide to go for hormone replacement therapy, we advise you to take great care. High T can be just as dangerous for women as Low T. It can also have an adverse effect on female fertility, but it can also: foster hair growth, cause your voice to become deeper and cause clitomegaly (an abnormally large clitoris). Thus if you believe that you suffer from low T, best start with changing your exercise routine and diet. Focus on weight lifting and other muscle building exercises. Opt for a more meat heavy diet. There are also some specific foods that acts as the natural testosterone boosters. If this doesn’t help, than consult your doctor about using testosterone supplements or hormone replacement therapy.