While the hormone testosterone has been linked with raising female libido, preventing bone fractures and breaks and elevating mood, women considering the use of testosterone patches, rings, and creams should proceed with extreme caution. Read on to learn more about what women should be aware of before using testosterone products.
The Role of Testosterone in Women
While the female body does secrete testosterone in the ovaries and the adrenal glands, it only produces about one-seventh of the testosterone that a man's body does. Testosterone is generally considered an important hormone for the development of male characteristics — such as body shape and hair growth. Thus, while women require low doses of testosterone for the regular functioning of their bodies, taking too much testosterone may cause unwanted development of these distinctly male characteristics.
While many synthetic testosterone products are made by pharmaceutical companies and approved by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for men, currently there are no testosterone supplement products approved by the FDA for usage by women. In addition to concern about the development of male characteristics, testosterone products are not approved for usage by women because testosterone is converted to estrogen in the blood. Hence, testosterone products might carry the same risks associated with long-term estrogenic therapies, including breast cancer and heart disease in women. Read on to learn about the side effects of testosterone therapy.
Side Effects of Testosterone Therapy
The use of testosterone therapy poses certain risks for women. Too much testosterone in the blood may cause the following changes in menopausal women:
- Hair growth on the upper lip, face, chest, nipples, and lower abdomen. Additionally, fine hairs may darken or become course. Thinning of scalp hair (male pattern baldness)
- Shrinking breast size or irregular clitoris size as a result of increased muscle mass and redistributed body fat
- Irregular menstrual cycles, if menstruating.
- Anger or hostility, which may lead to depression.
- Hoarseness or deepening of voice
In Europe, a testosterone patch is approved for women, but in the United States and Canada, approval is pending further research. The use of testosterone can cause serious health risks in women, so it's important that women experiencing testosterone deficiency consult with their doctors and weigh the pros and cons of treatment.
Women who are experiencing the symptoms of low testosterone levels and are seeking treatments should consult with a health care professional. He or she will be able to suggest natural or alternative approaches to treating the condition. Click here to read more about treatments for low testosterone levels.