Although the primary symptoms for women are decreased libido and other sexual complaints (see box below), other signs of testosterone deficiency are a general lack of energy and overall vitality, and a loss of muscle tone.
Most women begin to experience these symptoms after menopause, when their testosterone levels typically decline by approximately 50%. This decline is largely attributed to the fact that menopause causes the ovaries to stop producing testosterone, but it is further compounded by the fact that the adrenal glands also stop producing two other hormones, androstenedione and DHEA, which are converted to testosterone within cells throughout the body. However, a variety of other conditions can cause the decline to begin much before menopause, and some women begin to experience these signs as early as their 30s.
Shippen & Fryer identified some of the conditions that can contribute to a pre-menopausal decrease in women’s testosterone levels, including:
- Birth control pills
- Medications* that interfere with the bio-availability of testosterone such as:
- Provera® (norlutate) and Tamoxifen® (nolvodex)
- Drugs such as Prozac® or Zoloft® that alter the brain’s serotonin transmitters
- Some psychoactive drugs or other antidepressant and antipsychotic medications
- Psychological trauma and depression
- Surgery (adrenal stress)
- Chronic abuse of substances such as alcohol, cocaine, or narcotics
- Normal aging.
By testing the blood levels of testosterone we can determine if there is a deficiency of this hormone and to what degree. Replacement with bio-identical testosterone in association with the other female hormones (if indicated) can restore vitality, sexuality, and slow the aging process.