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Testosterone Levels in Women: Why Are They Important?

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When you think of the word testosterone you probably think of a man – an assertive, muscular man with a chiseled physique and rippling muscles. The absolute epitome of masculinity.

But women need testosterone too. In this article we take a look at why.

Currently, more than 20% of testosterone-booster sales are coming from women. And with more and more women choosing to enter the weights room to tone up, shred fat and maximize athleticism, it’s about time we looked at the research to find out why.

Here’s what we cover:

  • Why women need testosterone
  • What’s a normal T level for a female?
  • Why is T important?

Why Women Need Testosterone

Many women hear the word testosterone (T) and immediately conjure up an image of a muscular male physique.

And if not, maybe some bearded, square-jawed female bodybuilder, only just clinging on to her femininity with her masculine hands. But it’s not like that at all – in fact it’s quite the opposite.

Don’t get us wrong, a female with super high testosterone will definitely begin to show signs of masculinity – but normal levels are essential for everything from health and well-being, to fitness and performance.

What is testosterone and why is it more than a male hormone?

Testosterone is a natural steroidal hormone which is produced in your ovaries and a small amount from your adrenal glands. During pregnancy, T can also be produced by the placenta as well.

As a naturally-occurring hormone, T is produced from cholesterol. And although the pathway that cholesterol takes to become a steroid hormone is complex, rest assured that it’s this sterol that makes your natural steroid hormones.

It is the most important androgen hormone for both men and women [1].

Androgens are one of the 5 sub-classes of steroid hormones, with the others being estrogens, progestins, glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids.

What is a normal testosterone level in women?

Whilst a normal testosterone levels for men is 300-1,000 ng.dL, it’s much lower in women – around 15-70 ng.dL. That’s 15-20 fold lower than in your male counterparts.

And this is the main reasons why you just can’t add the same muscle bulk, strength and masculinity as a man – you just don’t have the capacity to store testosterone that they have. And unless you take actual illegal anabolic steroids or have a medical condition, you never will.


A small group of young, athletic women running outside

Key Point: Testosterone levels aren’t just important for men – they play a vital role in female physiology too.


Why is testosterone important for women?

By now you’ll be starting to see that testosterone is more than just a male hormone. But exactly why is this androgen important for women?

Let’s take a look…

It helps regulates your menstrual cycle… and your libido

When you think of menstrual cycles you probably think about estrogen, progesterone, and the way these two female sex hormones fluctuate over the course of a month or so to stimulate the production of an egg in hopes of fertilization.

That’s right. And it’s no surprise either that T peaks right around the time when your at your most fertile too. Higher levels of testosterone have long been known to boost female libido and that means a much better sex life.

Studies show that not only does T peak around the most fertile part of your cycle, females with low testosterone have little chance of orgasm and pretty much non-existent libidos [2].

Some research projects, such as this one in the world-leading journal the Lancet, Diabetes and Endocrinology [3], even suggest that one of the clinical significances of testosterone in women is to offset a “loss of sexual desire, which causes affected women substantial concern”.

It keeps your heart, muscles and your bones strong

Testosterone isn’t just about your libido, it’s a big driver of metabolic health too.

Women who had low testosterone levels but used supplementation to correct their hormone deficiency over a 12-month period were found to develop stronger bones and leaner, more muscuslar physiques too – we mean toned, not bulky by the way! [4]

As free testosterone levels increased, so did their health. Hip and spine bone density increased, as did muscle mass. All without any fat mass increase.

Unsurprisingly, they also experienced a big increase in libido too in this double-blind clinical trial.

And one large systematic review paper found that the majority of clinical trials point out that optimal T levels in post-menopausal women help to reduce a number of risk factors of coronary heart disease – from high fat mass and cholesterol levels, to blood pressure and triglyceride levels [5].


Fitness young woman with dumbbells on a dark background

Key Point: Testosterone helps women to maintain libido, metabolic health and athleticism.


Low testosterone levels in women: the side effects

Much like with men, women’s testosterone levels naturally begin to decline as they age.

But unlike men, it begins to drop off much earlier – from the age of 20 as opposed to early thirties in men. That means that by the age of 40, T levels are around 50% of what they are during early twenties in women [6].

Low testosterone not only affects your bone and muscle mass, heart health and libido, it can have other side effects too.

These include:

  • Tiredness, lethargy and lack of energy
  • No motivation or vigor
  • Repeated illness and poor immune function
  • Low mood, irritability and symptoms of depression
  • Thinning hair

Summary

When you think of testosterone you might not even consider a woman. Instead you might opt to conjure up thoughts of a masculine example of the male race – muscular and confident.

But T is just as important for women too. It helps to maintain libido and mood, and is an important regulator of athleticism and metabolic health.

If your T levels fall short and you need to give yourself a boost, then consider a natural supplement with the right nutritional profile to elevate your androgen levels safely and effectively.


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References

  1. Sowers, MF et al. Testosterone Concentrations in Women Aged 25–50 Years: Associations with Lifestyle, Body Composition, and Ovarian Status. Am J Epidemiology. 2001; 153(3): 256-264
  2. Basson, R. Testosterone therapy for reduced libido in women. Ther Adv Endocrinol Metab. 2010; 1(4): 155–164
  3. Davis, SR et al. Testosterone in women–the clinical significance. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015; 3(12): 980-92
  4. Miller, KK et al. Effects of testosterone replacement in androgen-deficient women with hypopituitarism: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006; 91(5): 1683-90
  5. Spoletini, I et al. Androgens and cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women: a systematic review. Climacteric. 2014; 17(6)
  6. Zumoff, B et al. Twenty-four-hour mean plasma testosterone concentration declines with age in normal premenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995; 80: 1429-30

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