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Women And Testosterone

  • Testosterone is known as "the male hormone", but women do produce small amounts throughout their lives -- about one-seventh the amount per day that men make.
  • In women, testosterone is produced half in the ovaries and half in the adrenal glands.  After menopause, testosterone production decreases gradually by one third of premenopausal levels (unlike estrogen production which decreases dramatically).  In women who have had their ovaries removed, testosterone levels drop by half. 
  • Women on estrogen replacement therapy have further reduced testosterone production.
  • In women, testosterone helps maintain muscle and bone mass and contributes to the libido (sex drive). 
  • Benefits of testosterone supplementation in women with "low testosterone" include increased bone mass; increased muscle mass; increased strength; increased libido; and improved quality of life ("I just feel better").
  • Side effects of testosterone in women include acne; increased facial hair growth; head hair loss; and decreased HDL ("good" cholesterol).
  • Who may be a candidate for testosterone blood level testing?  Menopausal women with complaints of decreased libido; women who have had their ovaries removed; women who have lost pituitary function (as a result of surgery or certain medical problems); and menopausal women with advanced osteoporosis.

Created: 4/26/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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