Low Testosterone in Women: What Causes It?

older lady to illustrate what causes low testosterone in women
Medically Reviewed
February 16, 2022

You don’t often hear talk about what causes low testosterone in women. That’s because there are a lot of misconceptions out there about sex hormones. So let’s debunk a myth here today. Testosterone is not only produced by the male body! Women’s bodies produce testosterone as well.

In fact, women’s testosterone levels are often higher than estradiol (the main form of estrogen) levels. And even though women produce a small amount of testosterone compared to men, a low testosterone level can negatively affect how a woman’s body functions.

Low testosterone symptoms in women are no laughing matter.  If you’ve got them, you may be wondering, “How did my testosterone levels get so low? What are the symptoms of low testosterone in women?”

We’ll look at BHRT as a solution in a moment – but let’s first discuss the causes and consequences in more detail.

What Causes Low Testosterone in Females?

Your testosterone levels naturally change throughout your life, during your menstrual cycle, and even throughout a normal day. But there are instances when your testosterone levels can significantly drop below normal and stay there. Here are a few things that can cause low-t in women.

  • Long-term use of oral birth control pills and contraceptive patches.
  • Ovarian failure can lead to low testosterone levels.
  • Chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and eating disorders.
  • Using certain medications like anti-hypertensives and opiates.
  • Tumors on various glands in the body.
  • Hysterectomy.
  • Adrenal insufficiency.
  • Menopause.

Yes, menopause! Not only does menopause mess with your estrogen and progesterone levels, but it can also throw your testosterone levels off balance. You may be surprised to find out that medications that combat the side effects of menopause, like oral estrogen, can lower testosterone levels. Dealing with hormones can feel like a vicious circle at times!

What Does Testosterone Do for Women?

Testosterone is categorized as an androgen. Androgens tend to be thought of as male hormones, but the female body naturally produces androgens too. A woman’s body produces testosterone in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Testosterone levels affect

  • sex drive
  • fertility
  • red blood cell production
  • muscle mass and fat distribution
  • mood regulation
  • maintenance and growth of bones
  • women’s sexual health
  • vaginal health
  • cardiovascular health

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder and Low Testosterone in Women

Low levels of testosterone can lead to hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSSD).This widespread women’s sexual health problem occurs in as many as 8% to 19% of women. The effects of HSDD vary and include

  • fewer (if any) sexual fantasies
  • lack of interest in sexual activity
  • personal distress
  • frustration
  • sadness
  • decreased self-confidence
  • low self-worth
  • depression
  • fatigue

The exact cause of HSDD is still unknown. However, researchers suspect that low testosterone levels may be one of the culprits because low-t is linked with less sexual desire. TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) has been shown to boost sexual desire in pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women.

What is the Normal Level of Testosterone in a Woman?

We’ve discussed what causes low testosterone in women. The best way to find out if your testosterone levels are indeed low is to talk with your healthcare provider.

They’ll order blood tests to measure the testosterone levels in your bloodstream. In addition, they may have you do multiple tests because hormone levels naturally shift from day to day.

You can also check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling:

  • Have you been feeling sluggish?
  • Do your muscles feel weak?
  • Are you experiencing more fatigue than usual?
  • Have you been having trouble going to sleep or staying asleep at night?
  • Does it seem like your sex drive drove off without you?
  • Have you felt less sexually satisfied?
  • Do you feel like you’ve plumped up and gained weight?
  • Have you been struggling with fertility issues?
  • Are your menstrual cycles on no-cycle?
  • Has your vagina felt itchy or dry?
  • Have your lab results shown a loss of bone density?

These are all symptoms of low testosterone, so if you answered yes to more than one of the questions, it’s time to visit your doctor.

However, these low testosterone symptoms are also common to other conditions, so your doctor may look deeper into your health for signs of other issues or conditions like

How to Increase Testosterone in Women?

You can take two approaches to increase testosterone levels: the medical approach, and the natural approach. You don’t have to rely on one or the other. We find that taking a holistic approach by combining the two is the most effective.

The Natural Approach

  1. Exercise and lift weights.
  2. Eat protein, fats, and carbs.
  3. Minimize stress and manage cortisol levels.
  4. Get some Vitamin D from the sun or a supplement.
  5. Get plenty of restorative sleep.
  6. Enjoy a healthy sex life.
  7. Avoid exposure to toxins.
  8. Address excessive alcohol or drug use.
  9. Laugh…a lot!

The Medical Approach

A medical approach to increasing testosterone levels will ultimately involve bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). We said, up top, that this would be a solution we’d suggest, if appropriate for you. So read on.

What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Basically, BHRT replaces the hormones you don’t have with bio-identical hormones so that your hormone levels can get back to normal. BHRT is most often used to address the symptoms of menopause in women, but it can be used for a host of other conditions. These can include cancer treatment, adrenal and thyroid disorders, insulin resistance, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and more.

Bioidentical hormones differ from synthetic hormones because they’re a natural hormone replacement. They are derived from plant sources and are chemically identical to those produced by your body.

Your practitioner customizes BHRT for your individual needs and can deliver it in many forms, including:

  • Injections
  • Creams
  • Pills
  • Patches
  • Gels
  • Insertable Pellets

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) for women is somewhat controversial at this time. The FDA has approved few testosterone-based treatments for women because the side effects can include

  • hair loss
  • acne
  • excess facial hair
  • a deepening voice
  • an enlarged clitoris

That’s why it’s crucial that you receive BHRT from a trusted source and a doctor who will monitor your progress.

Women Can Increase Testosterone With Nava Health

Do you think you have low testosterone or suffer from a hormone imbalance? At Nava Health, we want to unlock a healthier you and help you feel your personal 100%. We offer you customized and holistic care, so don’t be afraid to contact us for a consultation today! We always look at your overall health before prescribing any treatment.

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Article Name
Low Testosterone in Women: What Causes It?
We cover what causes low testosterone in women, how you know if you have low levels, why testosterone is crucial to your functioning, and how you can increase your levels, including using BHRT from a trusted provider.