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What women should know about testosterone

Women and testosterone

Did you know that testosterone is not just a male hormone; rather women have testosterone too? While it is not the predominant sex hormone, like males, it is still super important.  This blog post covers the roles of testosterone in women, the signs and symptoms of imbalanced testosterone levels, and what you can do to balance them through nutrition and lifestyle. 

What is the role of testosterone in women? 

Testosterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. The key roles of testosterone in women involve the following – 

  • Maintenance and growth of bones
  • Increases muscle mass 
  • Supports female reproductive system 
  • Regulates mood
  • Can decrease body fat in post-menopausal women 
  • Supports healthy libido (hello sex drive)
  • May help support cardiovascular health

Signs and Symptoms testosterone levels are off-balance

Imbalanced testosterone levels can be very problematic yet can easily go unnoticed given that many women are not even aware that they have testosterone, let alone that their levels actually matter. 

Some women suffer from low levels of testosterone, while others struggle with higher levels. The symptoms of low and high manifest as opposites and happen for different reasons, so let’s jump into it! 

Signs and symptoms of low testosterone: 

  • Reduced muscle mass and strength 
  • Weight gain 
  • Osteoporosis – Low bone density 
  • Fatigue 
  • Increased anxiety 
  • Low libido 
  • Fertility issues 
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Hair thinning 
  • Dry skin

Symptoms of low testosterone may come on gradually and happen for a few reasons, including menopause and aging, issues with the pituitary and adrenal glands, long-term use of birth control, and certain medications (hypertensives and opiates). 

Signs and symptoms of high testosterone: 

  • Excessive body and facial hair 
  • Male pattern balding 
  • Acne 
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Deepening of the voice 
  • Decreased breast size
  • Low libido 
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Changes in mood

Reasons for high testosterone levels include PCOS, adrenal disorders like Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, thyroid conditions, insulin resistance, and steroid use. 

If you are suspicious of imbalanced testosterone levels, it is important to reach out and work with a health professional who will assess all your signs and symptoms, diet, and lifestyle and then will run tests. We love the DUTCH test for hormone testing as it is very comprehensive and gives us a full picture of what exactly is going on. 

Foods that promote healthy testosterone

Food is more powerful than we often give credit for! Some foods promote healthy testosterone levels by either aiding in boosting or lowering testosterone through their unique properties. 

Foods/nutrients that may boost testosterone: 

  • Oysters
  • Ginger
  • Pomegranates
  • Leafy Greens
  • Salmon and fatty fish
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Egg yolks 
  • Zinc
  • Shatavari
  • Tribulus

When talking testosterone boosting foods, we look for ones rich in healthy fats, zinc, magnesium, and a good source of proteins. We suggest incorporating some of these foods daily for a good few months to start seeing results. Note that getting adequate zinc may be tricky if you are vegetarian and vegan, and a supplement should be considered.

 Beware that if you are trying to raise testosterone levels, you may want to limit canned and plastic-packaged foods, given they often contain hormone-disrupting chemicals like BPAs, and limit alcohol which may impact reproductive hormones. 

Foods/nutrients that may help lower testosterone: 

  • Licorice root
  • Fatty fish 
  • Cinnamon
  • Nuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Green tea
  • Spearmint
  • Ashwagandha
  • Maca

Lowering testosterone can be a bit tricky but definitely not impossible. Working with a health practitioner is encouraged where they can work with you to determine which of the above foods and nutrients is right for you in the optimal quantities. 

Lifestyle tips to balance testosterone

Your lifestyle can be just as impactful as your diet. We encourage you to check out our post 6 tips for balancing testosterone for more detail, but we will give you the rundown in the meantime. 

Tips for balancing testosterone levels

  • Balancing blood sugar (KEY!)
  • Get moving! Strength training, in particular, has shown to be effective to increase testosterone levels along with interval training
  • Reduce stress
  • Supplement with a high-quality multivitamin 
  • Get quality sleep 

Bottom Line 

Imbalances in testosterone levels in women may be more common than you might think. Taking a holistic approach by looking at one’s diet and lifestyle, coupled with testing, and addressing the imbalances through nutrition and lifestyle modifications is key to rebalancing hormones like testosterone to optimize health. 

Think you may have a testosterone or hormonal imbalance? Click here to work with me!