Do you suffer from fatigue, mood changes, weight gain, and low libido?
Millions of women suffer from hormonal imbalance and are often misdiagnosed as anxiety or depression. Interestingly, low libido is one of the most common complaints in women of all ages. Yes, young women in their 30’s can suffer from low libido too. Low libido affects about 40% of women, according to the American Medical Association; however, there is no FDA approved treatment for low libido in women (but not men). But not to worry, help is available!
Although doctors have known that women produce testosterone, most mainstream physicians have believed that hormones like testosterone are not important for women. Only levels of the “female” hormones, progesterone and estrogen, were thought to have any significant bearing on a woman’s health and well being. Over the last decade, however, more and more evidence has been brought forth suggesting that testosterone is a very important hormone for women, especially in terms of staying fit, lean, and sexually active.
Testosterone is a crucial hormone often overlooked in women. Although testosterone is traditionally thought of as a male hormone, women make testosterone too, just in much smaller quantities, about 1/10th the amount. Women make testosterone in their ovaries and adrenal glands. So if you are a woman who has had her ovaries removed and/or undergoing chronic stress in your life, it is no wonder that fatigue and low libido go hand in hand. That is why in women, it is critical to include testosterone into the balance of any type of hormone regiment when needed.
Not only can testosterone bring back libido, it also protects against the most common chronic health issues that women face, such as:
- Relieving symptoms of menopause.
- Enhancing mental clarity and focus.
- Reducing anxiety, balancing mood and relieving depression combined with fatigue.
- Increasing bone density, decreasing body fat and cellulite, and increasing lean muscle mass.
- Offering protection against heart disease and diabetes type 2, by increasing blood flow and dilating blood vessels, and decreasing insulin resistance.
As with any substance, testosterone, when abused, can cause harmful side effects. However, testosterone has been used beneficially by men and women for over 40 years with minimal side effects. Some women believe that testosterone therapy will produce “masculinizing” traits, like hoarseness and aggression. While the hormone may sometimes cause inappropriate hair growth and acne, those side effects can be remedied by lowering the dose and reducing specific enzyme conversions.
When used in conjunction and balance with bio-identical estrogen and progesterone, testosterone is a safe and effective treatment option, even in women with breast cancer. Many women have a knee-jerk suspicion that any hormone treatment can increase their risk of breast cancer. However, clinical studies show that bio-identical testosterone not only does not increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, it may play a key role in warding off the disease.
Hormones can be difficult to test via blood because they cycle up and down throughout the month and even throughout the day. Some holistic doctors test using blood or saliva. I find that the best way to test is via 24 hr urine testing so you can catch the whole daily cycle of hormones. Interestingly, for women of Asian decent, urinary hormones are not accurate for testosterone, so a blood levels of testosterone is necessary. The key is to be informed. Ask your doctor if they have special training in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. If not, you may be missing out on a very important tool to increase your quality of life, decrease risk of chronic disease, and help you regain your zest for life.
Author: Dr. Sonja Fung, ND
Dr. Sonja Fung, ND is a primary care, naturopathic doctor utilizing bio-identical hormone treatments at Live Well Clinic (behind Cost Plus and Office Depot in La Quinta).
Live Happy, Live Well.
www.livewellclinic.org. 78900 Avenue 47 Suite 102 La Quinta, CA. 760-771-5970