Testosterone is an active and vital hormone in both men and women. It plays a role in your mood, energy levels, regulating bodily functions, and let’s not forget your sex drive. And the biggest role, the balance of estrogen. But the truth is, we’ve been groomed our entire life by late night advertisements, ex-boyfriends (or current ones) and our friends that testosterone is a male dominant hormone. But it’s not. Yes, testosterone and androgen levels in men are naturally quite higher than in women (almost 10 times), but you still have testosterone running through your body, just at lower levels. And having low T in women can affect you a lot more than you may think. Let's find out why, together.
What Is Testosterone
Testosterone is a primary androgenic and anabolic steroid naturally produced by your body. Testosterone plays a critical role in the development of muscle mass and contributes to the activation of the nervous system, resulting in more power and strength, better mood, and improved libido [R].
The Benefits Of Testosterone For Women
Testosterone is a very powerful hormone. In fact, testosterone is the most abundant biologically active hormone in women. Women, however, are much more sensitive to androgens than men, and the amount of testosterone in your body can vary [R] Some of the benefits of testosterone for women include:
- Increasing positivity and mood
- Elevating Overall Vitality
- Enhancing Sexual Desire
Low T In Women
Women produce testosterone in the ovaries and fat cells in much smaller, but necessary amounts, as compared to her male counterpart. When testosterone is combined with estrogen in the female body, a woman enables her natural ability to increase growth, maintenance, and repair of her bone mass, reproductive tissues, muscle mass, and overall functioning. Imbalances of testosterone, both high and low in women, can have serious and often damaging effects on a woman's overall health, including the ability to produce new blood cells, sex drive, sports/activity performance, muscle building/maintenance, mood, and more.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the normal range of testosterone levels for females is:
|Age (in years)||Testosterone range (in nanograms per deciliter)|
The range for males is higher, depending on age:
|Age (in years)||Testosterone range (in nanograms per deciliter)|
Androgens & Low T Levels In Women
The primary androgens in the body are testosterone and androstenedione. In the female body, androgens are converted into estrogens, the “female hormones”. These are also produced in the adrenal glands. Levels of testosterone in a female’s body can fluctuate often, and when androgens are imbalanced, hormonal imbalances ensue.
Low levels of T in women often goes undiagnosed because symptoms, like flagging desire and general malaise, have a variety of causes, and thanks to the categorization of “men’s hormones” and “women’s hormones”, many physicians overlook testosterone levels in women due to societal gender norms.
Low androgen and low T levels in women can occur at any age, but are more commonly associated with menopause or “perimenopause”. It's important to understand what to look for, symptoms-wise when you're considering if you have low testosterone levels.
7 Symptoms of Low T in Women
Testosterone levels will naturally regress as you age. Pre and postmenopausal women may experience low signs of testosterone or androgen deficiency, which can drastically affect your mood, cause anxiety, irritability, and even depression. The following are the most common symptoms of low T in women.
1. Decreased Sex Drive
The most simple way you can tell if you have a testosterone deficiency is your sex drive. If you're consistently sexually active, and suddenly encounter a loss of sexual desire, affection, or notice declined arousal, or dryness down south, in an otherwise arousing situation, it can often be associated with a hormonal imbalance. [R]
2. Decreased Musculoskeletal Health
Breaking bones, having bone pain, getting early onset arthritis or just noticing that your body's musculoskeletal system feels different? Clinical trials suggest that testosterone enhances musculoskeletal health in postmenopausal women [R]
Androgen directly influences bone health and is important in the acquisition and maintenance of bone mass and density. Maintaining optimal levels of androgen is essential in preventing osteoporosis and its associated complications [R]
RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Signs and Symptoms Of What It Is Like to Go Through Menopause
3. Depression & Mood Swings
I'm not talking about the normal mood swings, this is different. Unexplained emotional symptoms, such as moodiness, depression, and stress can often be a sign of low testosterone levels in women. Androgen helps to regulate several neuropathic functions, and with an imbalance in your hormones, mood-based symptoms may occur. This may be especially concerning if you're under the age of 40.
4. Inability to Gain Muscle with Increased Weight Gain
Having trouble increasing lean muscle mass, especially if you're resistance training, or performing HIIT workouts on a consistent basis, can definitely be a sign of low testosterone levels. Often times, a loss of muscle mass paired with an increase in body fat, particularly around the abdominal area is a symptom of diminishing testosterone levels.
RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Overarching Reasons Why Women Should Be Lifting Heavier Weights
5. Muscle Loss
If you're losing muscle mass, but haven't changed your fitness or nutritional protocol, then it could be a sign of low T in women. Testosterone gives your body the ability to create muscle mass. With a deficiency in testosterone production, you'll have a much harder time building muscle mass and maintaining it. You have to remember, that the small quantity of testosterone flowing through your body, plays a much larger role than you think.
RELATED ARTICLE: The 6 Best Supplements To Build Muscle Mass And Strength
6. Mental Fogginess
When you think of testosterone, you normally don't think about mental acuity and function. Researchers at the University of Monash in Melbourne, Australia, recently discovered that menopause is linked with memory decline due to lower levels of estrogen. Testosterone also plays a major role in a women's hormonal balance, and It's been shown that natural testosterone production has positive effects on women's brain function.
In a randomized controlled study, 92 women were assigned treatment with testosterone therapy, and at 12 and 26 weeks underwent cognitive testing. After 26 weeks, the women who received testosterone therapy had a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in verbal learning and memory. [R]
7. Chronic or Physical Fatigue
Women with low levels of testosterone can often exhibit symptoms of chronic fatigue. If you find yourself with an increased drop in energy levels throughout the day, when you normally have energy, you may be experiencing low testosterone levels. Often times you can tell when you become increasingly tired when you're still getting enough sleep. If you find yourself taking naps more often, with no real explanation, you could have an imbalance of hormones. Many medical conditions can cause physical and chronic fatigue, therefore it's best to consult with your physician.
How To Treat Low T In Women
These are all symptoms of low T in women and possible androgen or female testosterone deficiency. These symptoms are becoming increasingly recognized, as they can severely disturb your wellbeing, considering that testosterone is essential for a woman’s physical and mental health.
Before we go any further, NO! Testosterone does not masculinize women.
Effective doses of vitamins and minerals to elicit the release of natural testosterone will actually stimulate and increase femininity. However, pharmacological doses of free form testosterone can and may produce masculinizing traits. Outside of supra-pharmacological doses of synthetic androgens, however, Testosterone does not have any masculinizing effects. So, Nn! You will not turn into a man. You'll just turn into a stronger, healthier, and happier woman.
Testosterone Boosting Ingredients
So what do you do if you are exhibiting symptoms of low testosterone? Often times the symptoms of low testosterone are misdiagnosed or under diagnosed. The first step is to consult your physician for a blood test. According to general practicing standards, if your testosterone levels are lower than 25 ng/dL then you should consider ways to naturally increase testosterone levels such as by supplementing vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Zinc, Fenugreek or diindolylmethane (DIM).
Zinc is a trace mineral and element that helps with important biological processes such as hormone balance, production, and regulation. Zinc also plays a vital role in fertility as it helps the production of estrogen and progesterone, which will also balance mood and vitality.
A cross-sectional study published in the journal Nutrition, examined the relationship between zinc concentrations and testosterone concentration. The study found that study participants with zinc deficiency or that lacked zinc in their diet, were associated with a significant decrease in serum testosterone concentrations. Zinc supplementation resulted. After six months of treatment with 30mg of Zinc per day, serum testosterone concentration and levels significantly increased amongst all participants [R]
Zinc is easily one of the best testosterone boosting ingredients. When you’re purchasing a test booster, make sure zinc is one of its main ingredients.
Tongkat Ali, (Eurycoma longifolia), aka longjack has been a common herb in Chinese medicine for centuries due to its libido enhancing effects. Tongkat contains a variety of phytonutrients called quassinoids, most notably eurycomanone, that are responsible for enhancing sex drive and stimulating testosterone production [R].
A study published in the Journal Of the International Society Of Sports Nutrition, examined the effects of tongkat ali on stress hormones balance specifically cortisol and testosterone. 64 subjects were randomized and received either 200mg of tongkat ali per day or placebo for 4-weeks.
Cortisol and testosterone levels were significantly improved by tongkat supplementation, with cortisol dropping by 16% and free testosterone increasing by 37% [R].
Research indicates that the effects of tongkat ali in restoring normal testosterone levels appears to be less due to actually “stimulating” testosterone synthesis, but rather by increasing the release rate of “free” testosterone from its binding hormone, sex-hormone-binding-globulin (SHBG). Therefore, tongkat may be considered less of a “testosterone booster” but rather a way to maintain and restore normal testosterone levels.
Magnesium controls over 300 bodily functions and hundreds of enzymatic reactions. While, the biological functions of Magnesium are relatively broad, which include the production of nucleic acids, involvement in adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and helping muscle contraction magnesium’s most imperative function is to help regulate proper bone structure through mediating and coordinating calcium concentration, improving sleep quality, and increasing the bio-active free testosterone [R].
Research suggests that nearly 70% of Americans eat below the recommended daily amount of magnesium, with 19% eating less than half the recommended amount. Studies have shown that magnesium frees testosterone and makes it more bio-active. Research also suggests that one gram of magnesium combined with exercise can increase testosterone levels by 24%.
RELATED ARTICLE 6 Reasons Why You Should Take A Magnesium Supplement
Vitamin B6 also known as pyridoxine plays a direct role in cellular metabolism. It also stimulates testosterone production as it suppresses the synthesis of estrogen and affects enzyme induction through estrogen and androgen receptors.
Studies have shown that lower vitamin b6 is also correlated with reduced testosterone concentration, suggesting that vitamin B6 has a function in the action of testosterone (and other steroid hormones), possibly in the recycling of receptors from the nucleus back into the cytosol after initial translocation [R].
Fenugreek is a leguminous annual plant, which is native to India and China. It has been proven through several different clinical studies, that Fenugreek helps physiological aspects of strength, libido, and boosting testosterone levels [R].
A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, examined the effects of Fenugreek on strength, body composition, and power output.
In a double-blind randomized control trial, 49 participants, were administered 500 mg Fenugreek or placebo. Subjects participated in a supervised 4-day resistance training regimen split into two upper and lower body workouts per week, for a total of 8 weeks.
Results showed that Fenugreek significantly increased strength, reduced body fat and thus improved total body composition as compared to the placebo group with an increase in free testosterone.
DIM is a metabolite derived from a compound called indole-3-carbinol, found in cruciferous vegetables such as brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, and kale.
Research indicates that DIM exhibits both selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM) regulating estrogen and testosterone balance. Studies have shown that, DIM stimulates progesterone and can eliminate high levels of estrogen. DIM breaks down estrogen to be utilized effectively by the body, reducing the levels of harmful estrogen metabolites, which helps increase libido and improve mood.
According to studies, women who are exposed to heightened levels of stress from normal everyday stressors (I.e. kids, work deadlines, traffic, etc.) exhibit decreased levels of progesterone. Decreased progesterone leads to excessive amounts of ‘bad’ estrogen floating around the body. Research suggests that DIM can play a crucial role in eliminating these higher levels of estrogen, and can help benefit women exhibiting high stress levels.
RELATED ARTICLE: Ultimate Guide To Diindolylmethane (DIM)
Low T In Women: Takeaway
It’s evident that Testosterone plays an imperative role in women’s health and overall well-being. With low levels of T in women, you lose a significant part of your biological hormonal balance. Your sexual desire disappears, you lose muscle mass, you gain weight, you get irritable, and you can’t even satisfy your partner, causing added stress and emotional anxiety.
Naturally increasing your testosterone levels, could be exactly what you need to enhance your mood, increase energy levels, obtain better sleep, increase strength and obtain a better quality of life. A great place to start is with a great supplement, like ZMT from Swolverine.
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