Do women truly need to supplement testosterone levels?

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in testosterone | 3 comments

capital letter T redTestosterone is a hot topic for men. But evidently, it’s an equal opportunity hormone, designed to boost low libido one woman, one cream application at a time. But what is it about testosterone that makes its use in menopausal women questionable if downright unhealthy?

The levels, that’s what.

I’ve written about testosterone before and you can look up the archives via this link.┬áThe upshot is that for both men and women, testosterone therapy is oversold as a panacea for just about everything from distress about aging to sexual desire to bone, heart and mental health. Wow! Quite the Fountain, no?!

However, while transdermal (through the skin) testosterone is preferable (it avoids metabolism by the liver and promotes steady blood levels of the hormone), the patch has gotten the boot both in this country and overseas, and implants are no longer available. LibiGel, a topical cream was also denied market entry by the FDA. The result has been frequent prescribing of compounded testosterone in both genders.

Mind you, Allopathic practitioners for the most part shun compounded products, claiming safety issues and the lack of regulation. And in some cases, they are absolutely correct (do you recall the New England compounding crisis?). More recently, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) issued a press release knocking compounded prescriptions, noting that they may deliver excess levels of testosterone thereby “producing untoward effects.” For example, too much testosterone may lead to depression, promote unwanted acne and hair growth, enlarge the clitoris, deepen the voice, produce aggression and boost cholesterol levels. The answer? According to NAMS, the answer may lie in an Australian formulation — AndroFeme — that was recently tested in seven healthy, postmenopausal women.

In a study published ahead of print in the journal Menopause, the researchers report that this 1% testosterone cream, applied 5 mg daily for 21 days and then immediately thereafter, 10 mg daily for 21 days, resulted in peak blood levels of testosterone that were in the normal range; while the 5 mg dose raised blood levels only slightly above normal, the 10 mg dose raised it to a higher level (double the upper limit). Moreover, apparently neither dose level had an impact on estrogen levels or sex-hormone binding globulin, a protein that binds to the sex hormones and determines how much of them remain available.

So, what’s the lowdown? Theoretically, the Australians have arrived at an acceptable testosterone dose for women with a safe delivery system. They report that it was well tolerated but did not qualify what this means. If you read the NAMS press release, the organization is basically promoting a pharmaceutical grade product over compounded agents even though the study was conducted in a mere seven women. Seven women do not a conclusion make…ever.

How much testosterone is too much for women after menopause? As of today, any amount might be too much until more data are available. Buyer, beware. T is for thwart and the time to put low T to bedis now.

3 Comments

  1. 6-15-2014

    Thanks for all your great information. I’ve been reading about hormones and agree with Clinical Nurse Specialist, Corinne Peachment, who says that testosterone use in females can be highly problematic. If you consider taking testosterone, be aware of the long term hazards. It is a much more powerful hormone than estrogen or progesterone and short term benefits may not be worth the risk.

    • 6-17-2014

      Hello Jackie, with respect you are on the wrong track. Estrogen (estradiol to be precise) is one thousand times more powerful than testosterone or progesterone. Estradiol is measured in picograms (US) and picomols (globally)whereas both testosterone and progesterone are measured nanograms and nanomols. A picogram is one thousandth the strength of a nanogram making estrogen a very, very powerful hormone.
      Testosterone use in women is extremely well researched. I suggest you view http://med.monash.edu.au/sphpm/womenshealth/info-4-health-practitioners/index.html and read the Testosterone for Women sections. Professor Susan Davis heads Monash Women’s Health in Melbourne Australia. She is the world’s leading clinician and researcher in this area of medicine.

      • 6-17-2014

        I don’t think that there is a question as to whether or not some women might benefit from adjunctive testosterone. However,the claim that testosterone use in women has been well researched is an exaggeration, which is why governmental agencies continue to remove it from the market, refuse to approve it in the first place or outright dispute its utility.

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