Do Women Need Male Hormones?
When we talk about hormone replacement therapy for menopausal
women, we generally mean estrogen and progesterone, the two most important female
hormones. But what about recent reports that menopausal women may benefit from
taking male hormones, or testosterone? How can this be?
In fact, testosterone is not just a "male" hormone. Testosterone
is actually produced by women as well, just in levels much lower than in men.
In men and women, testosterone helps maintain muscle and bone mass. .
.as well as maintaining libido. Some women who take testosterone preparations
say they "just feel better" or have more energy; many report that once they
went through menopause, they experienced decreased libido, which returned if
testosterone supplements were taken.
But how do women know if their testosterone is "low"? This is an area that's
still considered "fuzzy math". There are blood tests for testosterone, but
there are no good charts or correlations between blood levels and symptoms or
guidelines about who should be tested. For most age-groups of women, it is also
unclear what the normal testosterone range is. There are also few good studies
about testosterone deficiency, proper doses, or the risks and benefits of supplementation.
While many menopausal women with libido problems have benefited from combinations
of estrogen and testosterone, the side effects of testosterone (acne, facial
hair growth and hair loss on the head) are unacceptable to most women.
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Created: 6/11/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.