You might think that testosterone is a solely a male hormone but all women should watch for signs of low testosterone. Testosterone is as important to female sexual health as it is for men. The hormone is secreted from the ovaries and adrenal glands, gradually increasing during puberty, then decreasing with age. A low T level can affect your libido, energy and mood. So what signs of low testosterone should you know to recognize?
As it is a sexual hormone, it won’t be a surprise that one of the signs of low testosterone is a decrease in libido (sex drive). Generally, women have less sexual desire with age but in younger women, low testosterone can mean sudden and extreme changes in libido and interest in sexual intimacy. It can also have physical manifestations, such a vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. You might also experience anorgasmia – the inability to have orgasms – or just lose pleasure in intimacy in general.
It also follows, therefore, that testosterone can mess around with your periods. In the worst case, it can make your periods stop. Generally though, it can mess with your cycle and exacerbate menstrual symptoms such as pain, hot flashes and mood swings.
With busy lives it’s easy to feel tired, but we’re talking fatigue, not just tiredness from lack of sleep. You feel fatigued when you get adequate sleep but still find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning or you feel listless and lacking energy all day. Fatigue on its own is not confirmation, but combined with other signs of low testosterone, it’s important to take note of. Low testosterone may also be at fault if you go from happy, restful sleep to interrupted and disturbed sleep.
It’s frustrating when you are eating healthy and working out regularly, only to find yourself putting on weight. A low testosterone level may well be contributing to this. Look for loss of muscle tonality or even muscle loss (this is commonly what we associate as the “manly” aspect of testosterone) and an increase in body fat. If this is happening around your abdomen particularly, it’s one of the signs you should be talking to your doctor about.
Another of the visible symptoms of low testosterone is hair loss. As well as being the sexual hormone, testosterone also supports healthy hair growth. If you experience patchiness or balding, your testosterone level could be out of balance.
I think we’re learning that testosterone is far more important to women than we might have expected. Sexual health, muscle health, hair health and now bone health are all affected by testosterone. Bone deterioration is a serious issue and can leave you prone to fractures. It can occur when the production of testosterone diminishes, affecting bone production and strength.
It won’t surprise you to hear that if your body is under stress as described above, your emotional state can be impacted too. Drastic hormonal fluctuations play havoc with your mood. Increased anxiety might be a symptom. And as testosterone plays a part in regulating a number of the body’s physical processes, it can also trigger depression, mood swings and decreased mental focus.
Don’t automatically think that if you’re experiencing one or two of these symptoms, it means you have a low testosterone level. Do, however, go and see the doctor and explain your symptoms. Did you know that testosterone is such an important female hormone?