Testosterone isn't just for men. This hormone is actually produced in small amounts in women's ovaries and adrenal glands. As you approach 40, your estrogen, progesterone and androgens (testosterone) levels begin to decline. If you've reached menopause or had your ovaries removed, testosterone levels drop even further and androgen-deficiency symptoms, such as lower sex drive and diminished energy, may surface.
This once-maligned hormone was thought to be one of the culprits behind acts of violence and rage; yet, in controlled doses, testosterone can be beneficial to menopausal women considering hormone replacement therapy, particularly if their lower libido isn't related to physical or emotional factors.
Although most doctors prescribe estrogen and progesterone replacement therapy to protect women against osteoporosis, bone loss and Alzheimer's disease, and to alleviate mood changes, hot flashes and vaginal dryness, these hormones may not improve sex drive or energy level.
Dr William Regelson, MD, and author of The Superhormone Promise, suggests that testosterone is the missing piece of the puzzle for hormone replacement therapy: "For many women who feel they are not quite themselves, the ingredient missing from the blueprint is testosterone." Dr Regelson found that including testosterone in the hormone replacement mix, even for brief periods of time, can mimic our "normal hormonal state" and help women better tolerate estrogen and progesterone.
Testosterone has also been shown to reduce vaginal dryness, urinary incontinence and urinary tract issues, although this might be due to the fact that much of testosterone is converted to estrogen, the hormone responsible for alleviating several urogenital symptoms.
Although few studies exist on the risks and benefits of testosterone hormone replacement in women, one research study conducted showed that testosterone improved overall well being, some measures of bone density, sexual drive, mood, energy and even sleep quality.
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