Normally, women consider testosterone imbalances a problem for men. The truth is that good testosterone levels are necessary for optimal female health.
Low sex drive, hair loss, energy levels, and anovulatory feminine cycles are all linked to dysregulation of testosterone..
Symptoms of Testosterone Imbalance
Other symptoms of testosterone imbalance include:
- Cystic acne
- Irregular cycles or no cycles at all
- Low energy levels
- Poor sleep cycles
- Low libido
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood fluctuations
- Hair loss and/or male-pattern hair growth on face and chest
- Weight gain
- Poor muscle maintenance
- Slow workout recovery
- Getting “hangry” often
That’s quite the list for a hormone that most people don’t consider to be a problem for women! You can see that in addition to balancing estrogen and progesterone, healthy testosterone levels in women set the stage for feeling your best throughout your cycle and during your period.
Testing Testosterone Balance
Women with PCOS tend to think about testosterone levels the most, since conventional medicine has now realized that it is testosterone imbalances in these women that largely leads to symptoms such as facial hair, severe acne, and problems associated with poor blood sugar regulation, like being “hangry” often.
However, functional medicine has given some more detailed insight on testosterone balance in all pre-menopausal women. The DUTCH test we use in our Healthy Hormones Group Program helps us see which pathway testosterone production follows in each individual woman, and how it relates to her overarching symptoms.
By understanding not only testosterone production, but how the body processes it, metabolizes, and eliminates (or not) it in the body, we can get a really close look at what parts of this cyclical process need support in order for the body to balance itself out and maintain good health in the long term.
Testosterone and Infertility
While this is crucial for all women in the setting of hormonal imbalances, this type of investigation is especially important for women who struggle with infertility and irregular or non-existent cycles.
These women tend to have multiple layers of hormonal dysfunction, and often already have alterations in their ability to regulate blood sugar, sleep/wake hormones, and hunger/satiety signals. As a result, it’s important for us as practitioners to recognize all of the systems affected, and provide support in the most high-yield areas. It is only by doing this that we can alleviate symptoms in our ladies, and get them back on the road to healing.
Real Life Example
I (Alex) was very curious about my testosterone levels during my last DUTCH test, as I was concerned that I may have the “Lean PCOS” subtype of PCOS. While I currently don’t believe that I do, after analyzing my results, there were some alterations in blood sugar regulation and testosterone metabolism that I am now still supporting with my protocol.
As a result, I have noticed a huge difference in my hair shedding, sleep cycles, energy levels, and libido. These are BIG wins for me, and I’m grateful I had the information available to me to provide this sort of help to my body.
Upcoming Topic in the Series
Since we’ve touched on the topic of anovulatory cycles–which tend to either be shorter, irregular, or non-existent as a result–we’re going to talk about how to really tell if you’re ovulating in the next article.
Come back and join us for that!