Testosterone: Things You Need to Know Before Supplementing During Menopause
You may not have heard much about women and testosterone. It’s generally a hormone associated with men. But women need it, too, just in a much lower dose. And with the onset of menopause, women have a lot less of it.
While your ovaries were making estrogen and progesterone, they were making testosterone, too. Now that they’ve either been removed or gone into retirement, you’re lacking in those hormones. If you’re like many women, you may have found that while your doctor will prescribe some estrogen for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), she’s not so quick to offer progesterone and may not prescribe testosterone at all.
Even if she does recommend supplementing with some testosterone, getting it may be the next hurdle. There’s no FDA approved version for women, so obtaining it and having it covered by insurance can be a challenge. Some doctors will prescribe versions for men with instructions for how to use it at a much lower dose, and another option is having it made for you by a compounding pharmacy so the dose is right for you.
And that dose is important. Although testosterone may be helpful for energy, self-esteem, brain fog, and sexual desire and response, there are some risks. You need to be aware of them so you can talk to your doctor immediately if you notice any of them.
Risks of too much testosterone:
- Deepening voice, which may be permanent
- Facial hair
- Chest hair
- Male pattern baldness
- Decreased HDL (good) cholesterol
- Increased risk for heart disease
- Liver damage
- Enlarged clitoris, which may be permanent
- Menstrual cycle changes (in pre-menopausal women)
- Fluid retention
Because of the side effects, you should consider other options before trying testosterone. Depending on your symptoms, these may include HRT for general menopause symptoms, managing stress effectively, getting healthier, treating underlying health issues, or seeing a couples or sex therapist. If you and your doctor determine testosterone is right for you, blood work should be done to carefully monitor your levels. You and your doctor can also discuss whether or not over-the-counter DHEA (a hormone that converts to both estrogen and testosterone) may be right for you.
This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support. Reprinted with permission: Testosterone: Things You Need to Know Before Supplementing During Menopause