Low libido, fatigue and depression are all symptoms of low testosterone in women. But there are many reasons for what can cause very low testosterone in females and how to stop this happening. It is no simple task to identify the cause of individual cases but some generic causes may relate to many people.
Testosterone is the hormone responsible for muscle and bone development. Males have a higher level than women during adolescent years, which leads to a more muscular stature. This continues into adulthood and is the main reason why males have a bigger muscle mass than women. Although women do have a lower testosterone level, very low levels can have significant implications such as low libido and depression.
Low Progesterone Levels
Testosterone is dependent on levels of progesterone, as progesterone converts into androstenedione from which testosterone is produced. Therefore when the body has low levels of progesterone it cannot sufficiently produce enough testosterone for normal physical functions. This can happen naturally, women above 40 years old tend to have lower levels, or it can be linked to a hormone deficiency which would need to be medically diagnosed.
Oral contraceptive suppresses the production of sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Taking the pill for a long period of time can upset the body's balance of producing the sex hormones naturally. According to a study in the January 2006 issue of the "Journal of Sex Medicine," women who used the pill may be exposed to long term problems with low testosterone. A protein called sex hormone binding globulin is found in the pill and binds with testosterone to stop it being used. Users of the pill have shown continued high levels of sex hormone binding globulin in their body after stopping use.
Age is a major cause of lower testosterone levels, but it is not directly linked to menopause. By menopause, the level of testosterone in women may have declined by as much as 50 percent, according to WomensInternational.com. At menopause, ovaries no longer produce testosterone and the adrenal glands stop producing hormones that convert to testosterone. Removing the ovaries at a later stage in life will also decrease the level of testosterone in the body.
Sometimes low testosterone levels can be caused by the organs that produce testosterone not functioning correctly and this is called primary hypogonadism. In women, this is primarily the ovaries, the possible problems could be premature ovarian failure or if both the ovaries have been removed. Ovarian failure relates to the ovaries not producing eggs at the correct time or sometimes not at all. Also the pituitary gland in the brain may be malfunctioning and not regulating the correct amount of testosterone to be produced.
- Cigna: Testosterone
- US Doctor: Testosterone is For Women Too: Testosterone
- Journal of Sexual Medicine: Impact of Oral contraceptives on Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin and Androgen Levels: A Retrospective Study in Women With Sexual Dysfunction
- Women's International: Connections: Testosterone: It's Not Just For Men Anymore!