When you think of testosterone, you probably think of it as the male hormone. Estrogen is for women; testosterone is for men. It might surprise you to discover that the normal testosterone levels in women are much higher than estrogen – about ten times as high, in fact. In terms of sheer quantity, testosterone is the most important female hormone.
That said, the normal levels for women are still only a tenth of what they should be in men. A little goes a long way.
What does it do?
Testosterone is responsible for energy levels, mood, libido, and a number of anabolic – body building – processes in both men and women. Although several compounds qualify as anabolics, testosterone is the main natural hormone we look at. In men, it is converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is about 15 times as powerful as testosterone. It is also largely responsible for hypertrophy of the prostate – something women don’t have to worry about – and hair loss – something they do.
The testes in men produce the compound in copious amounts. The ovaries in women also produce it along with its cousins, estrogen, and progesterone. Testosterone breaks down to both progesterone and estrogen through divergent biochemical pathways.
The adrenal glands also produce small amounts of it, but that small amount is significant in women because they need so little compared to men. Exercise that stimulates the adrenals will stimulate androgen production.
Exercise and Testosterone
Exercise is important to both men and women for maintaining a healthy muscle mass, burning fat, improving bone density, and overall health. This is why some supplements that claim to boost testosterone actually do it by boosting a person’s ability to exercise. Popular products like TestX Core do not contain testosterone; they contain dietary supplements that help boost performance and possibly testosterone with it.
Testosterone in Women
Testosterone plays an essential role in women’s health. These are a few of the areas in which this hormone functions:
After menopause, women commonly experience a decrease in their sex drive. This is partly due to the falling testosterone levels and it can be restored by testosterone supplementation. Because the need is less and testosterone injections are formulated for men, it is usually delivered by patch, cream or lozenges.
Testosterone supports the mineralization and strength of healthy bones, which is an important consideration after menopause. Estrogen usually gets the credit for this (and the blame when it is missing), but the role of testosterone in bone health is undisputed. Remember as well that testosterone breaks down to form estrogen.
Preserve mental health
Changing hormone levels affects thinking and mood in both sexes, but this effect is often much more striking in women. Mood swings over the monthly cycle and at menopause are well documented. Testosterone and its breakdown product progesterone are necessary in balance to keep a person on a steady cognitive keel.
Correcting testosterone levels might help in the prevention of cognitive fatigue, according to research in the journal Gynecological Endocrinology.