If menopause isn’t enough, women can also look forward to andropause. Andropause is typically called the “male menopause” and is the result of declining levels of testosterone, the “male” hormone. But, women produce testosterone too, and their testosterone levels decline with age along with estrogen and progesterone. In fact, testosterone levels begin to decline earlier in women than do estrogen and progesterone. So if you’re not feeling quite the same, and you’re not menopausal, you may be experiencing some of the symptoms of andropause.
Normal testosterone levels in women are about 10% of those seen in men, but that 10% is vitally important for optimal women’s health. Testosterone in women doesn’t look or act any differently than it does in men. Same structure – same function.
Symptoms of Andropause in Women
Women can experience a host of symptoms of andropause when their testosterone levels drop below critical levels. Testosterone is frequently called the “hormone of desire” and perhaps the most noticeable symptom of low testosterone is decreased sex drive, or libido. Testosterone also heightens the sexual experience. Low energy, indecision, irritability, lack of focus or concentration, and a loss of confidence or self-esteem can also be related to low testosterone.
Testosterone is vital for maintaining muscle and bone mass. Maintaining muscle mass is a major key to maintaining metabolism as we age. The better a woman’s metabolism the easier it will be to prevent weight gain in the form of body fat lowering the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Most women know the importance of estrogen replacement for bone health. But, testosterone is probably even better. The reason for that is testosterone is anabolic, which means it helps to build bone. Estrogen simply prevents the resorption of bone – mainly preventing bone loss from getting worse.
Testosterone also improves hand-eye coordination and visual-spatial cognition.
Treatment for Andropause in Women
Women with symptoms of andropause have several treatment options. Like estrogen and progesterone replacement, testosterone replacement needs to be done under supervision of a physician. Testosterone levels should be obtained to verify that testosterone level is in fact suboptimal. While testosterone injections are frequently used in males, it is possible to achieve healthy testosterone levels in women with transdermal creams that are applied generally once daily. Most women respond very well to creams. DHEA is an over the counter hormone that can raise testosterone in women and is worth trying before embarking on direct testosterone replacement. The usual dose is 10 mg to 25 mg a day of DHEA.
Let’s pause for a minute and remember. Though going through menopause and andropause may not be fun, both can be managed quite well with hormone replacement therapy making it possible to maintain that youthful vigor throughout life.
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