Recently, after feeling more tired than usual, I had some blood work done to try and narrow down the culprit. To my surprise, I had incredibly low testosterone. And, well, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t even realize low testosterone was an issue for women. Naturally, I have made several jokes out of my now taking prescription testosterone which has uncovered many women I know who have been told they also need to be taking it! Breezy Mama had to get to the bottom of symptoms of low testosterone and turned to Dr. Jeanne O’Connell, the Sylvana Institute CEO and Medical Director, to find out why more women are needing more testosterone these days.
What are some symptoms of low testosterone in women?
The most common symptoms of low testosterone are low libido, fatigue, cognitive decline, depression, loss of sense of well being, and reduced muscle mass.
EEK — what do you mean by “loss of sense of well being”?
Anxiety symptoms, feeling like “I am going crazy”, uneasiness, feeling like “something is wrong with me” or, “I just don’t feel right”, mild depressive symptoms.
How can women have their testosterone levels checked?
There are several methods to evaluated testosterone levels, including blood serum, blood spot and salivary level testing. Opinion on testing type, number of data points, time of collection and sequence of testing vary.
What is the treatment for low testosterone?
For women, determining adequate pro-hormone levels is appropriate, if levels are low, replacement of these can be sufficient to reduce symptoms. Life style changes to increase natural production can be both effective and educational. If symptoms are severe, or lesser interventions effective, testosterone replacement may be indicated.
Are there vitamins in addition to the treatment that can help?
Yes! There are many nutritional supplements that can help reduce symptoms associated with low testosterone levels and enhance the production of testosterone. The most important concept is to recognize that the human body has all of the mechanisms in place to produce sex hormones. This production requires precursors, factors and cofactors, signaling, enzymes and a place to make them. There are many reasons why some women have decline in testosterone production, such as genetics, life style and environmental influences.
Can you give examples of supplements?
All of the below supplements have a role in production of hormones a well as support and building blocks of these hormones (a very abbreviated list though it looks long)
· Omega 3’s – both plant and animal derived
· Minerals – Magnesium, Manganese, Chromium, Iodine
· Mitochondrial Support – D-Ribose, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Amino Acids, L-Lycine, L-Arginine
· B-Complex – all B vitamins
· Adrenal and Thyroid function support
What are some concerns for women who don’t treat their low testosterone levels?
Continued and worsening of symptoms.
Is low testosterone common in women after they have had a baby?
Not only low testosterone, but also low estrogen and low progesterone. This is a physiologic change and does not indicate a diseased state, and does not predict a chronic state of low hormones.
Hormones plummet after pregnancy because our body is no longer supporting a growing baby which needs elevated hormones. Mothers will experience a rapid drop below baseline and then come back up after weeks to months.
Should all women be tested after pregnancy?
If a woman is symptomatic, testing is appropriate.
Is it true testosterone levels are 4 times higher in women who are pregnant?
Not necessarily. The average serum testosterone level during pregnancy ranges from 100-140 ng/dl. These are higher than in the pre-pregnant state 10-70 ng/dl. Elevated levels are likely due to estrogen supported increase in sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), causing a reduction in clearance of testosterone and DHT.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes, thank you. Remember that nothing occurs to us physiologically that should be taken as personal. Humans are animals, Mother Nature cares the same for our species as any other. When we become a liability, she’d prefer that we become fertilizer or a lion’s lunch… This generation of women is suffering from physiologic exposures never before experienced. A new trail must be blazed in order to understand, anticipate and manage associated symptoms. Our hormonal changes are likely much greater than those of our Mother’s and their Mother’s, and may be dwarfed by our daughter’s. Don’t be frightened by hormones, get to know them well. Don’t ignore them, they will go away.
Very interesting! Why are we different than our mother’s generation?
100 years ago the average age of menopause was 45 and life expectancy was 49, NOW the average age of menopause is 51 and life expectancy is 84. So we are living longer without the help of hormones. Several physiologic factors contribute to that:
· Chemicals in food (pesticides and fertilizers) – our food has significantly less nutrients in it now as opposed to 50 years ago as our fields have been stripped of nutritional elements
· We are having children later in life
· Women are working harder and longer and have MUCH more stress than our mothers
· Environmental exposures such as pesticides, insecticides, petrochemicals, processed foods
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About Dr. Jeanne O’Connell
Dr. Jeanne O’Connell, the Sylvana Institute CEO and Medical Director, is a truly remarkable innovator who has developed many products and procedures in support of the quality of life of her patients. Dr. O’Connell, after practicing medicine for many years, opened the Sylvana Institute for Medical Aesthetics and is recognized as an expert in Aesthetic and Age Management Medicine. She teaches, lectures and trains physicians from all over the United States on these topics as well as serving as National Physician Trainer for Botox® Cosmetic, Juvéderm® and Vaser LipoSelection®. She is a Graduate of the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. She also serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland, School of Medicin