Whilst you might think testosterone is only for the fella’s, think again. Women need testosterone and the amount we need changes throughout the course of our reproductive and non-reproductive years. For women, testosterone is made in both the ovaries and the adrenals as well as in fatty tissue. What you may also be unaware of, is that as we age and progress through menopause, our testosterone becomes much like a superpower. It continues to become more important and more useful as we get older, unlike oestrogen which declines once we hit menopause, testosterone is there in full force.
That during our reproductive years there is less testosterone available. This is because Sex Hormone Binding Globulin or SHBG binds to almost all our free testosterone during our peak years and inactivates it as we age, SHBG begins to decline allowing more available testosterone and whilst the ovaries might pack-up shop on oestrogen production, they become very important to produce testosterone once menopause arrives. It’s also this decline in oestrogen that allows more testosterone in the body. Seems everything within you is working towards this special hormone rising as we get older.
Testosterone is important to help to support healthy bones as we age as well as support healthy muscle mass, happy moods, memory and healthy hair, skin and nails and libido especially for women who are transitioning through menopause. But what you need to know is that too much testosterone is also related to hormone issues like Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It can drive weight to the waist, see it that we grow a better beard than our dad (ok maybe not that bad, but facial hair is super frustrating for many women) as well as changes in skin leading to acne as well as oily hair.
For those with PCOS, excess androgens, including testosterone is at the core of the issue, but not limited to. I’ve written more in depth about this previously (check some good info out here and here). When there are high levels of these hormones, they can affect ovulation and whilst blood tests are a great guide they can often be misleading when it comes to what may be going on for you. Insulin Resistance is often also at the core of PCOS, with too much free insulin roaming in the body, it can cause the ovaries to be stimulated to make too much testosterone effectively causing the syndrome. it’s important to understand what’s driving your symptoms, the way we see such hormone imbalances is changing as we better understand the inner workings of our body and hormones.
Now that you understand testosterone a little better, you will see that like all hormones, it is important that it finds it’s groove, at the right time. Too much of anything is never a good thing and not enough can see all kinds of issues too. If you suspect testosterone is an issue for you, take a blood test, but remember a blood test is just a snapshot in a very small window of time. Your signs and symptoms are never wrong AND generally at the heart of unhappy testosterone is some kind of stress impacting your internal landscape. Being the detective in your health is the key to happier and healthier hormones in general.
Like some help or direction with sleuthing out your hormones – come join us in The Wellness Collective Membership where we continue to carry on important conversations just like this, all in a very safe and special place. See you in there!