Testosterone, as well as estrogen and progesterone, are vital hormones in the female body. When they decline, through either natural or induced reasons, the body can react negatively. Although testosterone is not thought of as a predominantly female hormone, it has been linked to the enhancement of libido, among other health benefits. Therefore, low testosterone levels in women can lead to a number of side effects, such as weak muscles.
This section describes causes of low testosterone levels in women: natural, induced, and other less frequent ones.
Understanding the Causes of Low Testosterone Levels
Because of the importance of testosterone in women's bodies, it is necessary to identify the causes of low testosterone. By identifying the causes it may be possible for women to take steps to prevent any future decline of testosterone. There are a number of natural, induced, and other causes that can result in decreased testosterone levels.
Natural Causes of Low Testosterone Levels
Natural causes of low testosterone are usually unavoidable and happen to most women to varying degrees as they age. Hormone production is directly linked to age. When people are young, important hormones are created in abundance, while when people age, production diminishes.
Deficiency in progesterone
Progesterone is directly linked to the production of testosterone in the body. Testosterone relies on there being sufficient levels of progesterone. One form of progesterone is said to convert itself into androstenedione, which is a precursor from which testosterone is created. Therefore, if women are suffering from a deficiency of progesterone, then their testosterone levels can drop as well.
Natural aging process
The natural aging process is another natural cause of a low testosterone for women. Testosterone is primarily produced by the ovaries. When hormone production by the ovaries declines, the body relies on the adrenal glands to take over. In some instances, the adrenals can perform a sufficient job. However, due to life stresses, the adrenal glands are sometimes unable to produce or secrete sufficient levels of testosterone.
Induced Causes of Low Testosterone Levels
Induced low testosterone levels are given this name because they are caused by external factors. Certain treatments and procedures - such as a hysterectomy, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy - affect the main glands that produce testosterone, causing a decrease in hormone production.
Hysterectomy is one form of surgery that can result in low testosterone levels. It can have two forms: partial or total. Partial hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus, while total hysterectomy refers to when the uterus and ovaries are removed. This latter causes a condition called “surgical menopause”, which disrupts ovarian hormone production.
Following a hysterectomy, a woman enters surgically-induced menopause and experiences hormone imbalance, regardless of whether or not her ovaries remain. Typically, the ovaries stop working within one to three years after hysterectomy, as blood flow to them gradually ceases.
It is recommended that women who begin menopause due to a hysterectomy check their estrogen (estridiol), progesterone, and testosterone levels. Often, a hysterectomy results in a shortage of vital hormones, and therefore many women may want to use available treatments to compensate for this deficit.
Another cause of low testosterone levels in girls and women is radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions. Many females find that after such treatments, their ovaries do not function correctly. Yet, it is worth noting that every woman's experience is different and the performance of the ovaries is due to the type of chemotherapy received and whether or not radiation was used on the ovaries.
Birth control pills
They can also lead to a change in testosterone levels. Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHGB) is a component of birth control pills, binds with testosterone, which in some instances can prevent the movement of the hormone through the bloodstream.
Other Causes of Low Testosterone Levels
Other reasons for a drop in testosterone levels exist, that do fit into either natural or induced categories. In this case, this change is normally caused by stress.
Loss of testosterone is very common among women and stress has an impact on it. Chronic stress has been identified as a particularly troublesome obstacle in the body's effort to maintain normal testosterone levels. This is because the body reacts to stress by creating less sex hormones and more stress hormones. In the long run, this change in hormone production can reduce testosterone levels substantially.
There are a number of causes for a lowering of testosterone levels in women's bodies. Some of these causes are preventable, while others occur naturally at different points in women's lives. In the event of low testosterone levels, the symptoms are also an important factor that must be discussed.
For a look at such symptoms, read on to learn about the symptoms of low testosterone levels.