The Menopause Charity
Testosterone and the menopause
You may have heard people talking about the role of testosterone in helping relieve menopause symptoms and be wondering why they are recommending a ‘male’ hormone. However, men aren’t the only ones to make this hormone, women do too. In fact, women produce three to four times as much testosterone than oestrogen before the menopause. It is the same hormone – women just produce lower amounts than men.
Testosterone is made in your ovaries and also your adrenal glands, which are small glands near your kidneys. The hormone plays an important role in sexual arousal, sexual response, libido, bone strength, cardiovascular health, cognitive performance, energy levels and wellbeing in women.
Levels of testosterone in your body gradually reduce as you become older. If you have had your ovaries removed by an operation, then it is very likely that your levels of testosterone will become low very quickly. This is because your ovaries produce the majority of testosterone in your body.
When your levels of testosterone reduce, you may find that you desire sex less often and when you do have sex, it is not as pleasurable as it used to be, even though you still desire and love your partner. You may also experience lower energy, brain fog, reduced energy and poor concentration.
Testosterone and the menopause
Testosterone is usually given to women who are also taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and have persistent symptoms, especially reduced libido. Testosterone is usually given as a cream or gel, which is rubbed into the skin so that it goes directly into the bloodstream. Implants of testosterone are also sometimes available. This will usually restore blood testosterone levels back into the normal range for women, although sometimes it can take a few months for the full effects to come into play.
Many women find that taking testosterone improves their stamina and energy levels; both physically and mentally – and that it often improves their libido and ability to orgasm.
There are usually no side effects with testosterone treatment as it is given to replace the testosterone that you are otherwise lacking. Very occasionally women notice some increased hair growth in the area in which they have rubbed the cream. This can be avoided by changing the area of skin on which you rub the cream. As the dose is so low, testosterone used in this way does not usually increase your risk of developing facial hair, voice deepening or skin changes. It is usually recommended to have regular blood monitoring if you are using testosterone and this is often done annually.
Testosterone for women is still not licensed on the NHS so currently it is only possible to obtain testosterone from the NHS by having the male testosterone prescribed to you that you will be recommended to use at lower doses. This urgently needs to change so there is a licensed preparation for women available. There is a female testosterone cream Called AndroFeme®1 which is currently only available on a private prescription in the UK. This cream contains almond oil so should not be used if you have an allergy to almonds.