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Testosterone in Women: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Testosterone in Women: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

By Kire Stojkovski M.D
Editor Jonathan Hoarau Published 02 May 2023
Time to read 10 min

Low testosterone in women is a common problem. There are many possible causes including an underactive thyroid gland, high blood sugar, and polycystic ovary syndrome. If you’re experiencing symptoms like decreased sex drive and fatigue that don’t seem to be going away with rest or treatment for other conditions, it may be time to have your testosterone levels checked by your doctor. 

We explore the various reasons why low T can happen in women. We’ll also discuss some common treatments as well as what doctors look out for when testing hormone levels.

Key Takeaways

  • Testosterone plays an essential role in women’s bodies
  • Testosterone deficiencies occur in both men and women
  • A blood test can measure testosterone levels
  • Low testosterone in women causes symptoms like lowered libido, weight gain, and decreased muscle mass
  • Women can increase their testosterone levels through medication, lifestyle changes, and natural supplements

What Does Testosterone Do for a Woman’s Body?

Testosterone plays a vital role in the following bodily functions of women: 

  • Bone growth [1]
  • Sexual function and libido [2]
  • Producing new blood cells, or erythrocytosis [3]

Testosterone is an androgen hormone produced by women’s bodies, specifically in the adrenal glands, ovaries, and fat cells of the peripheral tissues. 

Testosterone is one of three primary sex hormones found in both men and women. However, testosterone levels differ significantly, with womens’ typically being much lower.

low testosterone in women Total testosterone levels in women compared to men Though testosterone levels in women are much lower than in men, it’s still a vital hormone
Source: https://www.hgha.com/testosterone-levels-in-women/

What Does Low Testosterone Do to a Woman?

Low testosterone can result in several adverse effects on women’s health, including: 

  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease [5]
  • Development of insulin resistance [6]
  • Weight gain and obesity

Androgen deficiency in women is most common post-menopause [4]. However, it is not uncommon in pubescent women or those of childbearing age.

These conditions may present alongside other negative symptoms of testosterone deficiency.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Women

Due to its essential role in a woman’s body, testosterone deficiency gives rise to various symptoms, including: 

  • Reduced sexual desire [7]
  • Sexual dysfunction [8]
  • Decreased bone density [9]
  • Weight gain [10]
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Reduced lean muscle mass [11]

What Are the Causes of Low Testosterone in Women?

Testosterone insufficiency has several causes: 

  • The pituitary gland no longer releasing sufficient luteinizing hormone (LH) to trigger testosterone production in the ovaries
  • Adrenal insufficiency, due to the adrenal glands not functioning correctly [12]
  • Ovarian failure [13]
  • Aging—once a woman reaches menopause, her ovaries decrease the amount of hormones they produce, leading to lower testosterone levels
  • Obesity [14]

low testosterone in women How weight loss improves testosterone levels Obesity can significantly lower your testosterone levels, and losing about 30% of weight can improve the levels
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955331/

What Are the Treatments for Low Testosterone in Women?

Low levels of testosterone in women can be treated through medication, testosterone boosters, testosterone release triggering supplements, or lifestyle changes. However, due to its relative rarity, specific treatments for testosterone deficiency in women have not been studied extensively enough.

How Can a Woman Increase Her Testosterone Level?

Androgen therapy, also known as testosterone replacement therapy, is the most effective treatment for low testosterone levels. However, there are various other supplements and lifestyle changes women can make to raise their testosterone levels in a safer, more gradual way.

Testosterone Supplements for Women 

There are several natural testosterone boosters on the market to trigger or assist the body’s production of the hormone. 

One of the most popular supplements is discussed in detail in our Nugenix Total T review. It is comprised of eight natural ingredients that elevate both total and free testosterone levels, subsequently increasing muscle mass, energy, and sex drive.

Other supplements recommended for people suffering from low testosterone levels trigger the release of the human growth hormone (HGH). 

The benefits of HGH for men and women include weight loss and lean muscle mass gain. In addition, increased HGH levels can counter the physical effects of testosterone insufficiency, although one should carefully consider HGH side effects before using growth hormone-releasing supplements.

Lifestyle Changes

Besides natural supplements, various lifestyle changes could improve testosterone levels and ease the symptoms associated with testosterone deficiency. 

These include: 

  • Consuming a high-protein, low-fat diet. Low protein, high-fat diets can lower your body’s testosterone production [15]
  • Sex therapy may help treat and manage sexual dysfunction associated with low levels of testosterone
  • Exercise, especially resistance training, can naturally stimulate testosterone production [16]
  • Stress may cause lower sexual desire in women [17]. Finding ways to reduce or manage stress levels could help counter the effects of low testosterone on sex drive 

What do you think stress affects most in a woman's libido?

womans libido
Click on any answer to reveal the interesting findings.
Show hint
Correct! Wrong!

woman's libido
Contrary to popular belief, physical arousal is the form of arousal most affected by chronic stress.

low testosterone in women How chronic stress affects sex drive in women

Prescription Medications

Due to the essential role of testosterone in maintaining sex drive, women with low testosterone levels may also have hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). 

HSDD is one of the only circumstances under which premenopausal women will be provided with hormone replacement therapy. This is because the adverse effects of testosterone therapy in women, possibly including breast cancer, have not been sufficiently studied or documented [18, 19].

Prescription medications for testosterone deficiency include: 

  • Testosterone patches, which allow absorption of testosterone through the skin, but must be used continuously 
  • Testosterone gel used to decrease the symptoms of testosterone deficiency
  • Testosterone injections, which raise testosterone levels in the blood and reduce the symptoms of testosterone insufficiency


Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about low testosterone in women.

How Are Testosterone Levels Tested?

Measuring the level of testosterone in your body usually requires a blood test. In addition, your doctor may recommend a total and free testosterone test to pinpoint which of these should be supplemented.

Most testosterone in your body is bound to protein, while some of it is bioavailable or free. Therefore, deficiencies in either total or free testosterone could be the cause of the symptoms of low testosterone.

How Do You Fix Low Testosterone?

You can treat a hormone imbalance like low testosterone by supplementing the testosterone concentrations in the body. This is most commonly done through testosterone therapy, involving hormone injections, patches, or gels to rectify the imbalance.

One can also raise testosterone levels through changes in diet and exercise and by taking natural supplements.

How Much Testosterone Should a Woman Take to Build Muscle?

For increased muscle mass and reduced body fat, women with low testosterone levels are typically prescribed between 0.5 and 2.0mg of compounded testosterone per day.

low testosterone in women Effects of testosterone on lean body mass Testosterone increased lean body mass significantly compared to the placebo
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6711889/

What Are the Side Effects of Testosterone Replacement Therapy?

Testosterone therapy may produce various adverse effects, including:

  • Possible lower urinary tract symptoms [20]
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Erythrocytosis, or raised red blood cell levels

What Are the Symptoms of Excess Testosterone?

The use of testosterone supplements and hormone replacement therapy must be carried out with caution as elevated testosterone levels in women may cause the development of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), resulting in the following symptoms:

  • Hirsutism and excess facial hair [21]
  • Enlarged clitoris [22]
  • Acne [23]
  • Balding
  • Missed or irregular periods
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Weight gain
  • Infertility

How Does Bioidentical Testosterone for Females Work?

Bioidentical testosterone treatment is recommended to treat symptoms of low testosterone levels in menopausal and postmenopausal women, as well as conditions like vaginal atrophy and osteoporosis [24, 25].

Bioidentical testosterone is derived from plants and is often preferred over other testosterone therapies due to its natural origins. Furthermore, bioidentical testosterone is identical to the testosterone produced by humans.

Bioidentical testosterone can be administered in the following forms:

  • Transdermal patches
  • Gels and creams
  • Pills
  • Injections

Can Women Take Testosterone Boosters?

Yes, women can take testosterone boosters to rebalance their hormone levels. However, this must always be done under medical supervision as too much testosterone can cause several adverse symptoms and possible health risks.


Despite testosterone deficiency not being a common condition in women, its effects can cause various adverse symptoms. 

A testosterone test can quickly help you ascertain whether or not you have low testosterone levels. Fortunately, there are many treatments available to manage the deficiency as well as its symptoms in women. 


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