By now, you probably know about the incredible benefits of testosterone replacement in men. No doubt much of that is because Big Pharma has spent millions on TV ads about "T" deficiency. But here's something you might not know about testosterone because our Big Pharma friends have not gotten around to it yet. And that is how important testosterone is for women.
Yes, although testosterone is the main hormone in men, it's also very important for women. One of the reasons I have so much success with hormone replacement in women is because I always make testosterone a part of it. And now, a fully referenced review article on testosterone therapy in women is backing me up on this. So if you are a woman and are on hormone replacement therapy, take note. You need to know this information.
The authors of the paper reviewed all of the published literature on testosterone replacement in women. And they discovered 10 amazing facts. For one, and this one will surprise almost all of you, estrogen is not the most abundant biologically active hormone in women. That title goes to testosterone. Second, testosterone is not just helpful for women. According to the authors, it's "essential for physical and mental health in women." When I prescribe testosterone for a woman who has not been taking it, she has more energy, is stronger, her bones increase in density, and her brain works better. And that's not all.
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Unlike what many still worry about when testosterone is used for women, it is not masculinizing. Specifically, for the great majority of women, testosterone does not cause changes in the voice or head hair loss. In fact, the studies show that in most women, testosterone increases head hair growth. But what about facial hair growth? If there's anything that women hate, it's the facial hair that happens after menopause. Here's the thing. This is not because of testosterone. It's because of a lack of estrogen. If a woman waits too long after menopause to replace her deficient estrogen levels, this is a problem she is likely to face (pun intended).
In women, just like in men, testosterone is a healthy thing to have around. It protects the heart from coronary artery disease and heart failure, decreases atherosclerosis, and prevents diabetes. To quote the authors, "There is overwhelming biological and clinical evidence that testosterone is cardiac protective. Testosterone has a beneficial effect on lean body mass, glucose metabolism, and lipid profiles in men and women; and has been successfully used to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Testosterone acts as a vasodilator [opens up blood vessels] in both sexes, has immune-modulating properties that inhibit atheromata [prevents cholesterol plaques in arteries], and has a beneficial effect on cardiac muscle." So far so good. But that is not all. Testosterone also prevents breast cancer. I'll tell you all about it on Wednesday.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Glaser R, Dimitrakakis C. Testosterone therapy in women: myths and misconceptions. Maturitas. 2013 Mar;74(3):230-4