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Menopause and Testosterone

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Updated July 19, 2009

When we think of testosterone we usually think of this androgen as a male hormone. There's even some discussion that men experience a time similar to menopause called andropause. However, testosterone is also one of six hormones produced by the female reproductive organs.

A special menopause supplement in the March 1999 issue of the "American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology" recommends the addition of androgen (testosterone) to estrogen for all women undergoing surgical menopause. The use of androgen therapy may also be beneficial to women who experience loss of libido and other symptoms of testosterone deficiency during natural menopause.

Androgens are produced naturally by the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Testosterone is an important factor in women's health before and after menopause. Testosterone provides several benefits to women:

  • improves relief of vasomotor symptoms of menopause

  • increases energy levels

  • enhances of feelings of well-being

  • decreases breast tenderness

  • improves sexual desire

  • increases sexual sensitivity

  • increases the frequency of coitus

  • enhances orgasm

Androgen therapy has been around since 1936, however the myths often associated with testosterone therapy in women have placed fear in many women and resulted in few women considering this therapy. Rare, but possible side effects of testosterone therapy include hoarseness or other voice changes, development of facial hair, acne, and over-sexuality. These side effects rarely occur at the low doses most often prescribed by physicians today; when side effects do occur relief is usually achieved by reducing the dose of testosterone.

Osteoporosis affects more than 28 million women in the United States; approximately 75% of patients are post menopausal. According to the Journal's supplemental articles "data from bone marker studies indicate that estrogen-androgen combination therapy stimulates bone formation as well as preventing bone resorption..." Further study is needed but testosterone looks promising for the treatment of osteoporotic fractures in post menopause.

Do you have Symptoms of Testosterone Deficiency?

  • diminished sexual pleasure

  • decreased sensitivity of breast and genital tissues

  • decreased orgasmic response

  • decreased libido

  • low energy

  • depression

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk with your gynecologist. Several forms of testosterone replacement are available including oral estrogen-androgen combinations such as Estratest, injectable and implantable forms, and compounded testosterone creams.

Suggested Reading:

The Hormone of Desire: Truth about Testosterone, Sexuality, and Menopause

Testosterone Resource Center

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