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Learn more about possible inflammation, etc. causing your symptoms when you watch our free webinar.
Hormonal imbalances, including abnormal testosterone levels, can have many negative effects on a woman’s life. There are several factors that can cause an imbalance, such as a high-sugar diet, certain medications (like birth control pills), stress, poor nutrition, and more.
Whatever the case may be, we’ll help you get to the bottom of your symptoms – starting with this post. Read on to learn more.
What Is the Role of Testosterone in Women?
While testosterone is usually associated with men (due to it being their primary sex hormone), testosterone is also present in women. Females release low quantities of the hormone in their ovaries, and its production is involved in sex drive, muscular strength, fertility, bone density, and more.
The Effects of Low or High Testosterone Levels in Women
Sometimes, testosterone (T-levels) can become imbalanced in women if the pituitary gland and brain aren’t properly regulating the hormone’s production. This causes T-levels to be either too high or too low. While both have adverse effects, the signs and symptoms will look different.
Women naturally have much lower levels of testosterone than men, so it’s less apparent to recognize these signs compared to high levels. In addition, a female testosterone deficiency mimics many other, far more common health conditions when it comes to symptoms.
Signs of low testosterone levels in women include low libido and sex drive, low or depressed mood, fatigue and lack of energy, and weakness.
On the other hand, are you having trouble with weight gain and body fat, fertility, or irregular menstrual cycles? Perhaps you’re experiencing dermatological issues affecting your appearance – such as increased acne or dry skin. If these changes seem random – meaning you haven’t changed your diet, aren’t in pre-menopausal or menopausal stages, and it’s not “just that time of the month” – then high testosterone levels could be your problem.
Ready to learn more about how a functional medicine approach can be effective for treating high or low testosterone levels? Read our blog How Functional Medicine Treats Thyroid and Hormonal Issues.
How Can I Get Tested for a Hormonal Imbalance?
If you suspect you may have a hormonal imbalance of testosterone, the first step is getting tested. Your functional medicine doctor will want to rule out any other health conditions contributing to your symptoms. While imbalanced T-levels can look like other medical issues, the good news is, we can easily test and identify hormonal levels in the body.
Your functional medicine doctor will order blood tests to find out if your testosterone levels are too high or low as part of your comprehensive functional medicine health program. However, you can raise the issue with your functional medicine doctor at any time – especially if you’re noticing classic signs.
8 Causes of Testosterone Level Imbalance in Women
Once your functional medicine doctor confirms either low or high testosterone levels, you may wonder how they became imbalanced in the first place. There are several factors that trigger irregular testosterone in women.
1. Poor Diet
It’s no secret that the foods you put in your body can have a huge impact on your health. Since we rely on our diet to get the proper nutrients to fuel our body, a poor one can increase your risk of developing medical conditions. Testosterone levels in women are no exception.
Diets high in sugar, salt, and fat (often found in processed foods) are known to increase levels of inflammation in the body. And while inflammation is linked to many adverse side effects, irregular hormone production is one of them. A healthy, well-balanced diet lowers your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and more – as well as reduces unhealthy inflammation levels that throw your testosterone off.
2. Thyroid Disorders
Your thyroid is an extremely important gland involved in the production of hormones that can regulate your metabolism, energy levels, body temperature, and more. But the thyroid has another role in influencing (not directly controlling) the production of sex hormones by other glands. This includes levels of testosterone produced by your ovaries and adrenal glands.
Factors like this one are why it’s so important to take a holistic, functional medicine approach to find the root cause of your symptoms. Oftentimes, medical conditions can’t be reduced to a singular or isolated direct cause.
We all know stress – both short-term and chronic – can throw your bodily functioning entirely out of balance. Whether that’s poor sleep, low energy levels, physical aches and pains, trouble concentrating, etc.: Everyone has felt the effects of stress on their health and well-being.
So, why does stress cause so much trouble? Increased stress levels trigger the release of cortisol in your system which directly impacts your health. And you guessed it – cortisol also dampens the production of healthy amounts of testosterone in women.
4. Birth Control and Contraceptives (And Other Medications)
While many different medications have side effects that influence your hormonal balance, some are more common culprits than others. In women, birth control directly impacts your sex hormones and results in lower testosterone levels. Also, for the testosterone that you do produce, the effects won’t be as strong as they are normally.
5. Autoimmune Diseases
Similar to stress, chronic medical conditions such as autoimmune disorders can eventually lead to weakened systems, and thus, lower testosterone levels.
As women get older, their testosterone levels naturally decrease after a peak in early adulthood. This is especially true as females approach pre-menopausal and menopausal stages. In fact, the drop is so significant, testosterone is sometimes used as a treatment for menopausal effects.
7. Reproductive Health Issues
Most of the testosterone women produce is from the ovaries. Therefore, reproductive health changes such as an oophorectomy (surgical removal of ovaries) or hysterectomy (partial or total removal of the uterus) can impact testosterone levels. Other reproductive health conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) also dysregulate the endocrine system that manages testosterone levels.
Finally, a common cause of low or high testosterone levels in women is pregnancy. However, it is not abnormal for the sex hormone to fluctuate throughout pregnancy, and this should balance out naturally in the postpartum period.
Where to Get Help Restoring Healthy Testosterone Levels
Turns out, it’s not as easy as taking a testosterone pill or supplement to boost your low T levels back to normal. Because testosterone isn’t the primary sex hormone for women, it is a more complicated balancing act to restore healthy levels.
That’s why it’s best to work with a qualified functional medicine doctor who will identify the root cause of your imbalance, not just artificially alter hormonal levels (although this may be a part of treatment).
Dr. Radawi at Tri-Cities Functional Medicine can dig deeper and help you return to healthy, normal testosterone levels.
When you’re ready to take the first step in fixing hormonal imbalances:
1) Watch our free webinar to learn about our approach to the hormonal imbalance concerns you are facing.
2) Schedule a free discovery call to discuss your health concerns and goals to see if functional medicine is a good fit for you.
3) After your discovery call – if we are a good fit, you’ll schedule your consultation with our doctor to dive deeper and formulate an individualized treatment plan for you.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.