Testosterone plays a surprisingly important role in a woman's body. For example, it contributes to muscle growth, bone health and brain function. Disease and aging can lower the circulating levels of this essential hormone. Fortunately, there are many convenient natural ways to naturally increase your testosterone levels.
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Read more: Testosterone and Weight Loss in Women
Maintain Normal Testosterone Levels
Testosterone levels in women vary depending on age. A 2016 report in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism nicely illustrates this gradual change. The researchers measured the testosterone content of saliva samples taken from more than 2,000 women.
The results of this study showed that younger women had testosterone scores of about 300 picomoles per liter (pmol/L), middle-aged women had scores of about 225 pmol/L and older women had scores of about 50 pmol/L. Testosterone levels typically double during a normal pregnancy, according to a 2017 paper in Developmental Psychobiology.
Read more: Normal Range of Testosterone for a Woman
Head Off Diseases That Lower Testosterone
Disease can also lower testosterone. The adrenal glands make most of the circulating testosterone in women. Thus, adrenal gland pathologies can cause low testosterone. The ovaries also make some testosterone, so women with premature ovarian failure and those without a period may have low testosterone as well.
These medical conditions increase your risk of life-threatening disease. Fortunately, doctors can treat many causes of low testosterone. It's important, therefore, to seek medical attention when you suspect your testosterone production has decreased.
Identify Symptoms of Low Testosterone
Several warning signs can suggest that you have low levels of circulating testosterone, according to a 2018 paper in The Physician and Sports Medicine. These signs include low bone mineral density, sexual dysfunction and fatigue. Awareness of these signs can help you prevent the serious consequences of low testosterone, like broken bones.
Read more: Signs of Low Testosterone
Reverse Low Testosterone
Doctors often give women with low testosterone a prescription medication to boost the hormone. While effective, these testosterone boosters can have side effects. They also likely appear on banned lists of performance-enhancing drugs that come from governing bodies for certain sports.
Nutritional supplements and behavioral modifications give you a more convenient way of increasing your testosterone. Yet, dietary aids remain poorly regulated and may not be safe for you to take. Lifestyle changes can also have unforeseen consequences. Thus, speak with your doctor before making any behavioral or dietary changes.
Read more: What You Really Need to Know About Supplements
Consume Caltrops to Increase Testosterone
Many people consider the plant Tribulus terrestris or bindii, a member of the caltrop family, an aphrodisiac. Increases in testosterone may mediate the sexual effects of this annual plant. A 2016 report in Menopause tested this hypothesis in postmenopausal people with low libido.
Participants took 750 mg of the supplement every day for an extended period. After 16 weeks, their circulating levels of testosterone and their libidos dramatically increased. Members of the control group did not show any changes in these measures. Neither group reported significant side effects.
Read more: How to Use Tribulus Terrestris for Bodybuilding
Use Malaysian Ginseng to Increase Testosterone
Ancient healers have used Eurycoma longifolia, also known as Malaysian ginseng, as an aphrodisiac for centuries. Modern researchers have shown that testosterone mediates this effect in men. The authors of a 2014 article in Phytotherapy Research wanted see if they could repeat the finding in women.
Older women took capsules containing 400 mg of Eurycoma longifolia each day for five weeks. This procedure gradually increased their testosterone. It remained higher than baseline from three weeks until the end of the study. The women didn't report any supplement-related side effects.
Scientists have started to understand the mechanisms underlying the positive effects of Malaysian ginseng. Eurycomanone appears to be the active ingredient in this traditional herb. A 2018 report in the Journal of X-ray Science and Technology showed that extracts featuring eurycomanone prevented bone loss in an animal model of osteoporosis.
Use Red Clover to Increase Testosterone
Herbalists have used Trifolium pratense, red clover, to treat menopausal symptoms like hot flashes. The mechanisms underlying these effects remain unknown. Testosterone decreases hot flashes in some postmenopausal people, so red clover may work in this way. A 2015 paper in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine reviewed the literature testing this idea.
Several studies have shown that taking red clover extracts increase circulating levels of testosterone. The most convincing of these studies used 80 mg of red clover each day for 12 weeks. Compared to baseline, the active ingredient in red clover — isoflavones — increased testosterone 22 percent.
Read more: Red Clover Vs. White Clover
Take Boron to Increase Testosterone
Boron, a mineral, keeps the cell walls of plants strong. Eating dried fruits and nuts gives you abundant amounts of boron. You can also take boron supplements. It's important to keep your daily boron intake at less than 20 mg, however, according to a current factsheet available from the U.S. National Library of Medicine. High doses of boron can cause serious side effects such as skin inflammation and peeling, irritability, tremors or depression.
A 2016 review by H.W. Fisher described the physiological roles of boron. The mineral helps you maintain healthy levels of sex steroids. For example, 3 mg of supplemental boron increases testosterone in postmenopausal people.
Read more: Foods High in Boron & Vitamins
Take Magnesium to Increase Testosterone
Low levels of magnesium will lead to effects similar to low boron levels. A deficiency in either mineral increases the loss of calcium. This loss may weaken your bones and places you at risk for osteoporosis.
These findings suggest that magnesium can also increase testosterone. A 2011 paper in Biological Trace Element Research tested this hypothesis in healthy athletes. The participants received magnesium doses of about 1,000 mg each day for four weeks. Compared to controls, magnesium supplementation increased testosterone.
Read more: How Much Magnesium Does a Woman Need?
Take Zinc to Increase Testosterone
Zinc deficiency also negatively affects testosterone levels, according a 2014 article in the Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Physiology. The authors of this review note that zinc supplementation can increase circulating testosterone in some populations. In fact, daily supplementation with typical doses may double testosterone within a few months.
Read more: What Are the Benefits of Zinc for Women?
Take DHEA to Increase Testosterone
The steroid hormone known as dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA, plays an important role in sexual behavior, mental health and muscle growth. Your body uses this hormone to make sex steroids. Thus, taking a DHEA supplement should increase your circulating testosterone. A 2018 paper in the International Journal of Sports Medicine explored this possibility in athletic women.
The subjects took a 100 mg dose of DHEA each day for four weeks. This protocol caused a dramatic increase in the women's testosterone levels by the end of the study. Athletes often use DHEA because it allegedly fights aging and improves performance. This experiment, however, failed to find a performance-enhancing effect of DHEA.
Read more: Menstruation & DHEA
Drink Moderately to Increase Testosterone
Drinking too much alcohol decreases testosterone in men, but drinking small amounts increases testosterone. A 2001 report in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism tried to duplicate this well-known finding in women.
The researchers gave participants two to three standard drinks. Compared to controls and baseline, this procedure increased blood testosterone levels for the next several hours. Surprisingly, this effect happened in both users and nonusers of oral contraceptives.
Read more: 5 Hidden Health Benefits of Alcohol
Play Sports to Increase Testosterone
Studies in men have shown that playing sports can increase testosterone. Interestingly, a measurable increase occurs when men take part in competitions. The authors of a 2017 paper in Hormones and Behavior wanted to see if a similar anabolic effect happens in women.
These researchers took saliva samples from recreational women athletes before and after playing 10 minutes of flag football. The data showed that this short, intense burst of competitive sport triggered the immediate release of testosterone. Interestingly, the subjects' mental state also contributed to the data. Self-rated performance scores were directly related to testosterone levels.
Read more: Testosterone and Weight Loss in Women
Run to Increase Testosterone
Similar anabolic effects may occur with solitary exercise. For example, moderate exercise such as running increases testosterone in men. A 2013 report in the European Journal of Applied Physiology evaluated this possible change in women.
In this study, participants completed a 60-minute run on the treadmill. Testosterone increased right after the run, but it returned to baseline within 30 minutes. Circulating estrogen levels and menstrual cycle phase did not affect the results.
Read more: How to Start to Run at 50 for Women
Lift to Increase Testosterone
Weightlifting also has anabolic effects in men. However, some researchers have failed to find these positive results in women. The author of a 2015 thesis from the University of North Texas wanted to resolve this disparity.
The female subjects had blood drawn before and after heavy resistance exercises. The weightlifting caused an immediate increase in testosterone, but this increase disappeared within an hour.
Be Romantic to Increase Testosterone
The relationship between sexuality and testosterone has also been well proven. Erotica increases testosterone in men. A 2014 review in the Archives of Sexual Behavior described similar effects in women. For example, intentionally generating sexual thoughts increases testosterone in women not taking oral contraceptives.
Directly interacting with men also affects the hormone levels of women. Both romantic touching and sexual activity increase female testosterone. In contrast, familial touching decreases testosterone.
Read more: What Hormones Are Responsible for Libido?
Wield Power to Increase Testosterone
Other stereotypical "macho" behaviors can affect testosterone in women, according to a 2015 report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For example, posing in a powerful way increases testosterone in both women and men. The 2015 report showed that having women role-play a position of power — acting like a boss — had the same effect.
Read more: Effects of Nonverbal Communication
- Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Salivary Testosterone Levels and Health Status in Men and Women in the British General Population
- Developmental Psychobiology: Maternal Salivary Testosterone in Pregnancy and Fetal Neuromaturation
- The Physician and Sportsmedicine: Treating Exercise-associated Low Testosterone and Its Related Symptoms
- Menopause: Efficacy of Tribulus Terrestris for the Treatment of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in Postmenopausal Women
- Phytotherapy Research: Tongkat Ali as a Potential Herbal Supplement for Physically Active Male and Female Seniors
- Journal of X-ray Science and Technology: Effects of Standardized Quassinoid-rich Eurycoma Longifolia Extract in a Rat Model of Osteoporosis Due to Testosterone Deficiency
- Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine: Effects of Red Clover on Hot Flash and Circulating Hormone Concentrations in Menopausal Women
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: Boron
- H.W. Fisher: Physiological Impact of Boron
- Biological Trace Element Research: Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Testosterone Levels of Athletes and Sedentary Subjects at Rest and After Exhaustion
- Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Physiology: Increasing Circulating Testosterone
- International Journal of Sports Medicine: Short-term Dehydroepiandrosterone Intake and Supramaximal Exercise in Young Recreationally-trained Women
- Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Role of the Liver in the Acute Effect of Alcohol on Androgens in Women
- Hormones and Behavior: Competition-related Testosterone, Cortisol, and Perceived Personal Success in Recreational Women Athletes
- European Journal of Applied Physiology: Response of Testosterone to Prolonged Aerobic Exercise During Different Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
- University of North Texas: Effect of Post-Exercise Ethanol Consumption on the Acute Hormonal Response to Heavy Resistance Exercise in Women
- Archives of Sexual Behavior: Measurement of Testosterone in Human Sexuality Research
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Effects of Gendered Behavior on Testosterone in Women and Men
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.