While testosterone is known as a male sex hormone and estrogen is a female sex hormone, everyone needs both to remain healthy. Women have testosterone as well, however only a fraction of what men do.
Your body produces testosterone in many places. Testosterone in young women originates from the ovaries, the adrenal glands, and even fat and skin cells. Like boys, girls experience an influx of testosterone during puberty, and it plays a significant role in helping your body mature into adulthood. A women’s body continues to produce testosterone alongside other androgens, giving the body plenty to convert into female sex hormones. Levels can naturally decrease with age, but testosterone in young women usually stays in a healthy range.
But what happens when your body doesn’t have enough of this crucial hormone? Young women with abnormally low testosterone levels can experience several mental, physical, and biological issues, requiring immediate intervention through testosterone therapy.
Signs of Low Testosterone in Young Women
Most young women don’t consider low testosterone a significant issue, but it can create many unwanted problems. Ideally, women should have at least 15 nanograms of testosterone per decimeter of blood. The upper end of the “normal” range is 70 nanograms. If levels decrease below 15 nanograms, your body can experience many symptoms.
In female bodies, testosterone is responsible for growing and maintaining reproductive tissue. It can also contribute to tissue repair after injury, help maintain muscle mass, keep bone density in good shape, and more. The hormone even influences vaginal and menstrual health.
Physically, abnormal levels of testosterone in young women can result in:
- Muscle weakness
- Fatigue and sluggish behavior
- Weight gain
- Changes in breast tissue
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased libido
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Internally, low testosterone levels can wreak havoc on your reproductive and musculoskeletal health. Common symptoms include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Fertility issues
- Muscle atrophy
- Decreased bone mass
On top of all that, you’re likely to experience constant fatigue, dramatically reduced sex drive, changes in sexual satisfaction, and even sleep disturbances.
Many of these symptoms coincide with other health problems. As a result, many women brush them off or mistake them as signs of another underlying medical condition. It’s not until a blood test that the true culprit of low testosterone in young women comes to light.
Causes of Low Testosterone in Young Women
Testosterone in young women is usually relatively stable. In healthy women, it’s not until approaching perimenopause that testosterone levels start to wane.
Many conditions result in a lack of testosterone in young women. The most common is using birth control pills. Birth control pills work by shutting down ovarian hormone production. Since ovaries are a source of testosterone production it results in low testosterone.
Stress and being overweight may be other reasons for low testosterone production.
Oophorectomy, or surgical removal of the ovaries, or early menopause will also result in low testosterone production. Because the ovaries are one of the most prominent sources of testosterone, their absence can cause issues.
Other potential causes of low testosterone in young women include hypopituitarism, a deficiency of pituitary hormones, or insufficient adrenal gland performance. The adrenal glands are another source of testosterone in the female body. Therefore, insufficiency can have a significant impact on testosterone levels.
Some experts also believe that genetics come into play. More specifically, genetic conditions that influence the production of testosterone precursors DHEA and DHEA-S could create lower-than-normal hormone levels.
RELATED: Hormones in Perimenopausal and Menopausal Women
Testosterone Therapy in Young Women
Ignoring low levels of testosterone in young women could lead to decreased libido, a slower metabolism, eventual weight gain, and an increased risk for physical injury, among other concerns. Fortunately, there are treatment options available.
Removing an external cause of ovarian suppression is important. For example, changing birth control pills or using a different method of birth control that does not involve ovarian suppression.
Testosterone therapy is another easy way to increase testosterone in young women safely. There are a few approaches available, but compounded bioidentical testosterone in the form of a pellet or cream is the most effective. Bioidentical testosterone treatments restore testosterone levels without worrying about adverse side effects. Creams and pellets absorb through the skin or fatty tissue and don’t involve the liver. As a result, doesn’t come with the same risks as alternatives. It’s safe, efficient, and easier to implement into your daily life.
While some women are wary of testosterone therapy due to the perceived risk of virilization, those effects are unlikely with proper doctor supervision. Bioidentical testosterone is specially formulated to regulate hormone levels and keep them at the appropriate range.
If you’re grappling with the effects of lower testosterone, reach out to the offices of Dr. Tahery. Dr. Michael Tahery is a board-certified OB/GYN and female hormone specialist with more than two decades of experience helping women throughout Los Angeles and its surrounding areas. He’s ready to address your unique needs and develop a treatment plan that alleviates symptoms and restores your sexual health. Call us today to schedule an appointment and see if testosterone therapy is right for you.