Menopause can be a difficult and uncomfortable time for many women. Hot flushes, mood swings, and decreased energy levels are just a few of the common menopause symptoms that women experience during this transitional period.
While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is typically the go-to treatment option for menopausal symptoms, many women are also turning to testosterone therapy as a way to alleviate discomfort and improve their overall quality of life.
As with oestrogen, testosterone levels in women naturally drop during the menopause, and one of the effects of this is a reduced sex drive; indeed, as many as 50% of women may experience a decline in their libido — in addition to symptoms such as fatigue — which may be at least partly connected to the decrease in testosterone.
Do women naturally produce testosterone?
Testosterone is a sex hormone that both women and men produce. Many people think of it as the ‘male’ sex hormone, but women’s bodies also produce testosterone. In fact, before they experience menopause, women tend to produce 3 times more testosterone than the ‘female’ sex hormone oestrogen.
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 function, bone strength, cardiovascular health, cognitive performance, energy levels, and overall wellbeing in women.
As women go through menopause, their hormone levels — including oestrogen and testosterone — naturally decrease. This decline in hormones can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including hot flushes, mood swings, and a decreased sex drive. By increasing testosterone levels, some of these symptoms (particularly the latter) may be alleviated.
What are the signs of low testosterone in women?
One of the primary symptoms of low testosterone in women is a reduced sex drive (libido); Testosterone helps to increase blood flow to the genitals, stimulate nerve endings, and enhance natural lubrication. The decrease in testosterone during menopause often results in a decreased libido, with many women experiencing less arousal, fewer sexual fantasies, and a general lack of interest in sex.
However, low testosterone levels in women can also cause:
- Sleep disturbances
- Muscle weakness
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of bone density
- Difficulty concentrating
You don’t usually need a blood test to determine your testosterone levels, but taking a female testosterone test can be useful to confirm whether you’re lacking this hormone. If your levels are low, you can then discuss with your GP whether testosterone replacement therapy might be a suitable treatment option.
Can you take testosterone for menopause?
While testosterone is not the first treatment option for menopausal women, it can be given alongside a traditional HRT treatment (such as HRT patches or gels) when symptoms such as a lack of libido continue to persist. Many women find that taking testosterone alongside HRT helps to increase their sex drive as well as improve their overall energy levels.
You may be eligible for testosterone therapy if all of the following apply to you:
- You’re at least 45 years of age and perimenopausal or postmenopausal.
- You’re currently using another HRT method such as a patch or gel.
- You have a low sex drive that isn’t caused by other factors such as psychological issues.
At the moment, testosterone is categorised as an ‘off-label’ medicine. This means that testosterone can be used to treat a different condition that it was first licensed for — in this case, menopause.
Testosterone treatment for women typically comes in the form of a gel, and is now available in the UK as Testim 50mg Gel. Testim is a long-term treatment option that works by being absorbed directly into the bloodstream, helping to increase overall testosterone levels and address symptoms such as a low libido.
To buy Testim gel online, simply complete a short online consultation for our online doctor to review. Once we’re happy it’s the right treatment option for you, we’ll deliver your testosterone gel quickly and discreetly straight to your door.
Can you take HRT with testosterone?
Yes. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is typically the first-line treatment for menopause symptoms (coming in various forms such as tablets, gels, or patches), and it’s recommended that you do have testosterone replacement therapy (for example, because you want to regain your sex drive), you do so alongside an existing HRT treatment such as a patch or a gel.
You should discuss with your doctor whether a combination of HRT and testosterone therapy is the best course of action for you, depending on your symptoms and their severity.
How is female testosterone taken?
Testosterone for women typically comes as a gel that you rub directly onto your skin to increase your testosterone levels, similar to HRT treatments like Oestrogel or Sandrena Gel. A testosterone replacement gel such as Testim is applied daily (unless otherwise advised by your doctor) in a thin layer, usually to the skin on the shoulders or upper arms.
During menopause, testosterone therapy is a long-term treatment option, which means that it needs to be applied regularly and consistently over several months in order to be effective (it may take 3 to 6 months to see results).
There’s also an implant available that contains testosterone, which is placed directly under the skin. However, this treatment is not commonly offered, and may only be available from a specialist.
What are the benefits of testosterone during menopause?
While it can take up to 6 months to feel the full effects of testosterone therapy, many women experience the benefits of using the treatment within 3 months. The benefits of supplementing your testosterone levels during menopause include:
- Improved sexual function. Many women experience a decrease in sex drive and overall sexual function during menopause. Testosterone therapy may help to improve libido and overall sexual function by increasing blood flow to the vagina and enhancing natural lubrication.
- Increased energy. Testosterone can help to improve energy levels, reduce fatigue, and improve the overall quality of life.
- Improved mood. Some women may experience mood swings, irritability, or depression during menopause. Testosterone therapy may help to improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Increased bone density. Women are at an increased risk of osteoporosis as they age, and the decline in hormones during menopause can exacerbate this risk. Testosterone therapy can help to improve bone density and reduce the risk of fractures.
- Reduced hot flushes. While testosterone therapy is not typically used to treat hot flushes, some women may find that it helps to reduce the frequency and severity of these symptoms.
It's important to note that while testosterone therapy can be helpful for some women during menopause, it's not appropriate for everyone. Discussing your symptoms with your doctor will help to determine whether it’s an appropriate treatment option.
Additionally, there may be some potential risks and side effects associated with this treatment, so it's important to discuss any potential benefits and risks with a healthcare provider before starting testosterone therapy.
What are the potential side effects of testosterone for women?
Like all medical treatments, there is a risk of side effects when taking testosterone for menopause. Although uncommon, you might experience side effects such as:
- Excess hair growth
- Weight gain
It’s important to take note of how your body responds to testosterone. If you have any concerns, speak to your doctor, who can reassess the treatment and recommend an alternative method if appropriate.
Everyone’s menopause journey is different, but you don’t have to struggle with your symptoms alone. If your current treatment plan isn’t working, adding testosterone for menopause might help — find your menopause treatment at The Independent Pharmacy today, with convenient, fast, and discreet delivery.