You probably know from grade school health classes that testosterone is important for boys and estrogen is important for girls but, well, it's a bit more complicated than that. (Isn't it always?) Women naturally produce testosterone as well (and men, estrogen), but there could be warning signs a woman isn't producing enough testosterone on her own. While it's true that women produce less of the hormone testosterone than men, according to Harvard Women's Health Watch, women need testosterone to make a specific form of estrogen called estradiol. Testosterone is important in women's bodies, so not making enough naturally, either due to a condition of some sort or the aging process, can be problematic.
According to WebMD, testosterone, like estrogen, is produced in women's ovaries and then released to circulate throughout your body via the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Levels of the hormone are highest in women around the age of 20 and then decline as you age. Now listen up, ladies: Testosterone is an important hormone that affects bone health, energy levels, and, according to WebMD, there is evidence that testosterone is linked to sex drive in women (and a lot of evidence that it is in men).
High levels of testosterone in women are characteristic of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and can potentially lead to infertility. Testosterone levels decline as you move towards menopause, but there can also be some signs that you may not be producing enough. Keep an eye out for these signs to determine what, if anything, needs to be discussed with a doctor or done to remedy the situation.
1. Low Sex Drive
As mentioned earlier, testosterone plays a part in libido for both men and women. According to Healthline, if you're not producing enough testosterone, you may experience a decline in sex drive.
2. Inability To Manage Pain
According to Everyday Health, if you're struggling to manage pain, it could be a sign that you aren't producing enough testosterone naturally. Uneven levels of testosterone and estrogen can wreak havoc on the pain responses within your body.
3. Constant Fatigue
Find yourself constantly exhausted? It may be because you're dealing with low levels of testosterone, according to Prevention. Low energy levels have been linked to low testosterone levels in both men and women, especially those over the age of 65.
4. Cognitive Decline
While cognitive issues and mental fogginess are, to a certain extent, symptomatic of growing older, according to the aforementioned Everyday Health article, these can also be symptoms of changing hormone levels at any age — whether due to growing older or not.
5. Bone Frailty
According to the aforementioned Prevention article, not producing enough testosterone can mean issues with bone health. A weak handshake can be a subtle and early signal of bone frailty.
6. Mood Swings
Menopause is characterized by changes in mood (among other things, am I right, ladies?). According to a different article from Healthline, fluctuating or dropping levels of testosterone could be to blame for increased depression or anxiety.
7. Weight Gain
As it turns out, your unwanted and unexplained weight gain could also be caused by low levels of testosterone. According to The Huffington Post, once production of testosterone begins to slow, women may experience weight gain as a result.
Your doctor will be able to determine whether or not you're producing enough testosterone, as well as if there is anything that you should consider doing to boost the amount of the hormone in your body. With peri-menopause and full-fledged menopause, it's not just estrogen that's a factor, but testosterone as well.