What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone present in men and women, although in different amounts.
In women, testosterone is produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands and the normal range for testosterone levels in women is said to be around 0.52–2.4 nmol/L.
To put this into perspective, a normal range for men is 9–38 nmol/L. That’s nearly twenty times the amount that women have! These ‘normal ranges’ are only a guideline, however, as what is considered the normal range can vary between labs.
So women, if you're scared of bulking up by weight training, know that you simply don't have enough testosterone to pack on muscle mass as males do.
What is the Role of Testosterone in Women?
In women, testosterone fuels your sex drive, increases bone strength and bone mineral density, and may even support anti-ageing effects. Testosterone also plays a role in body composition, as it aids the development of muscle mass and the metabolism of fat.
What Affects Testosterone Levels in Women?
As well as the hormone disruptors mentioned in my previous post, oral contraceptives can impact levels and some medical conditions have an effect on testosterone levels in women. Levels also change with the natural ageing process.
Symptoms of High Testosterone in Women
High levels of testosterone in women are difficult to achieve. Where they do occur, it will likely be due to a medical condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and can have physical side effects.
These may include hair loss (in places that you want hair), hair growth (in places that you don’t want hair), acne, menstrual problems and, sometimes, weight gain.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Women
The symptoms of low testosterone in women can easily be mistaken for symptoms of something else. They may include:
Fatigue and lack of energy, which may be due to disrupted sleep
Changes in body composition, such as loss of muscle and increase of fat
Decreased sex drive
Mood changes, particularly depression and anxiety
If you are suffering from these symptoms, especially struggling to lose weight and gain a lean physique, you may want to follow steps to naturally increase testosterone levels.
High intesnsity training, strength training, lowering stress levels and reducing your intake of sugar and processed foods will help.
You might like to follow these tips for balancing hormones.
Supplements for Healthy Testosterone Levels
Improving your testosterone levels with nutritional supplementation is also an option.
One of my favourite supplements for maintaining healthy hormone levels is ZMA. You can read more about this in my Guide to ZMA for Women.
Vitamin D3 is also important in maintaining healthy hormone levels. It is able to regulate the aromatase enzyme (the enzyme that converts testosterone into oestrogen).
However, there are many more complex testosterone boosting formulations (sometimes called T-boosters or test boosters) emerging in the growing nutritional supplements market. In the interests of curiousity and to demonstrate that testosterone is not a scary thing, I chose to trial one from Monkey Nutrition.
Have you experienced any symptoms of hormone imbalance? What measures have you taken to try and correct them?