Testosterone for Women: Why Female Patients Sometimes Need Testosterone Supplements

June 11, 2022

What is testosterone?

You may think of testosterone as a hormone exclusive to males, but women make this hormone too. It is just one of many sex hormones that women produce, along with estrogen and progesterone.
Levels of testosterone in your body gradually reduce as you become older, with many women not even noticing. Others are more sensitive to the changes and sometimes benefit from extra testosterone. Young women who have surgical menopause (removal of ovaries) may notice the change in testosterone more, usually because they are younger and the drop in testosterone levels is sudden. Lower testosterone levels in women can result in a variety of health issues.

Low testosterone in women often results in persistent, chronic low sex drive (Hypoactive sexual desire disorder, HSDD) in women. After all other possible factors including taking adequate estrogen have been addressed, HSDD is the most common reason women seek medical attention for low testosterone levels. Even with this indication, it does not help everyone. There is not enough evidence at the moment to recommend its use for low energy, low mood, fatigue, or brain fog.

How is testosterone treatment given?

Testosterone is usually given as a gel, which can be rubbed into the skin for easy and quick absorption. It comes as a gel in a small sachet, tube, or pump dispenser. One 50mg sachet or tube should last around 10 days, as you only need about a pea-sized dollop for each dose. The gel should be rubbed onto your lower abdomen, thighs, or the inner aspect of your forearm. Testosterone may be given to some women as a pellet as well.  These are implanted under the skin for a steady dose of testosterone. It can sometimes take a few months for the full effects of testosterone to work; a 3-6 month trial is often recommended.

Are there side effects?

If you use the recommended dose, which is a small amount over a week or more, side effects are very rare. Avoid always applying your dose to the same area as this can cause irritation,  and do not use more than suggested. Higher doses may lead to unwanted effects such as acne and occasional hair growth.

There is a lack of long-term data for women using testosterone, but data up to five years shows no adverse effect in healthy women after menopause.

Do I need a blood test?

Blood tests are not able to diagnose whether or not you need testosterone but are used as a safety check to ensure you are not getting too much on top of your own natural levels. Blood tests before starting might be suggested with repeat testing after 3-6 months of treatment.

If you are interested in speaking to a healthcare professional about low libido or testosterone replacement therapy needs, contact the Austin Urology Institute at 512-694-8888. We would be happy to walk you through this process and take care of your medical needs.