Testosterone Therapy – Not Just for Men Anymore.
Expelling the MYTHs behind testosterone & why it’s important to women.
We’re overwhelmed in this country with ways to cure what ails you. Pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of money on marketing to get you, the patient, to realize you have a disease – and then to treat that disease with their medication. For many disorders, medication can be a good and necessary therapy. And, it’s simple. You find out what you have, then you pick the right pill to fix it.
When it comes to the symptoms of hormone imbalance in women – Menopause, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), sexual dysfunction – the conventional approach is to blindly treat the symptoms. Some version of the following conversation takes place hundreds of times a day across this country:
Patient: “Doc, I feel irritated, anxious and moody, bloated, don’t want to be touched, and generally feel like crap lately.”
Doctor: “Ok – take this pill.”
Patient: “Thanks, I think.”
Take this pill, and your symptoms will go away. This approach works for some – but it ignores, or masks, the underlying problem.
I’d like to challenge this conventional wisdom. It’s vital to discover the reasons why you’re feeling the way you do, before you can successfully be treated. This is what is known in Functional Medicine as finding the “root cause” of the problem. Hormone imbalance is exactly what it sounds like – there is either too little, or too much, of certain hormones. It’s important to discover what is out of balance, and then replace what is missing, or help the body get rid of what is overabundant.
The best way to treat hormone deficiency is with hormones. Not the ones that are created in a lab to be similar yet slightly different (and therefore patentable) from the real thing. I’m talking about the actual, bio-identical hormones that match the ones we produce naturally. Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone. Today I’m going to address Testosterone therapy for women.
When you hear the word “Testosterone”, what pops into your head? First of all, the image you see is probably a guy. For some, it’s the aggressive, muscle-bound guy at the gym. For others, it’s the man who’s lost all the hair on his head, only to have it sprout all over his back. For still others, the husband or boyfriend with an insatiable sexual appetite is the first thing they think about. Chances are, the characteristics or traits we first associate with testosterone are the same ones typically associated with men. Treatment of men for “Low T” with testosterone therapy is well-accepted, and in some places practically ubiquitous. In women, the U.S. medical community sees testosterone in one of 2 ways – it’s either “too high” (as in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS) or “too low” (as in Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder – aka “Not tonight honey, I have a headache” syndrome). Even when we’re talking about sex, we are slow to consider testosterone therapy for women, mostly due to an unfounded fear of causing unintended side effects.
The truth is, testosterone therapy has been used in women worldwide for decades – with fantastic benefits for health and well-being. First of all, testosterone levels decrease as we age – all of us – starting in our late 20’s and 30’s. The symptoms of testosterone deficiency: fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression, memory loss, hot flashes, joint pain, and sexual dysfunction, to name just a few, are frequently experienced by both men AND women of all ages. Not only has testosterone been proven to help eliminate many of these symptoms, but it also improves heart health, prevents and reverses osteoporosis, prevents Alzheimer’s Disease, and, believe it or not, is protective against breast cancer!
So why the hold up? Bottom line answer – myths and misconceptions fuel modern medicine’s view of testosterone. Here are just a few of the myths – which have in many cases become accepted as facts – which keep testosterone from being at the forefront of medical therapies for women:
Myth #1 – Testosterone is a “male” hormone.
While it is undeniably true that men have higher levels of circulating testosterone than women, the fact is that testosterone is the most abundant active sex steroid hormone in women throughout their lives. Testosterone is created in women by the ovaries and adrenal glands. Estrogen, the hormone typically considered to be the predominantly “female” hormone, is actually synthesized from Testosterone (so you can’t have estrogen without testosterone). Both men and women have receptors for testosterone throughout the body – and these receptors have been proven to be biologically active in both sexes.
So, testosterone is not just a “male” hormone.
Myth #2 – Testosterone in women is only important for sex.
The medical community, as a whole, has always been somewhat male-centric. We tend to think of everything in terms of what men want and need. So it isn’t too surprising that when it comes to testosterone, we think of sex first. And while testosterone does play a significant role in libido and sexual function for women, that is only a fraction of what testosterone does. As I mentioned before, testosterone has been proven to be beneficial to the heart, brains, bones, and breasts.
Of all the medical therapies we have available to us, testosterone has one of the longest lists of health benefits – for men and women.Testosterone – it’s not just for good sex anymore!
Myth #3 – Testosterone is dangerous for women.
There are several reasons why the U.S. medical community holds this belief. Mistaken assumptions are partly to blame. Testosterone has been associated with certain diseases – one of which is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). The data regarding testosterone in PCOS has been represented as a causative relationship (i.e., Testosterone causes PCOS), when there is insufficient data to suggest this is the case. The truth is, we don’t really know what causes PCOS. But we DO know that not everybody with PCOS has elevated testosterone, and not everybody with elevated testosterone has PCOS. So it doesn’t make any scientific sense that testosterone would cause these disorders.
The second reason testosterone is demonized by our medical community is the way the FDA categorizes the different forms of testosterone. It doesn’t. What I mean to say is that the FDA does not differentiate between bioidentical testosterone – which is exactly the same hormone naturally produced by the human body – and non-bioidentical (aka, “synthetic”) testosterone – chemicals created to mimic the effects of testosterone, but are not the same chemical structure.
“Only by addressing…fears and using…scientific data to debunk myths, will we be able to move forward…and begin to give women the full benefit of hormone therapy – to improve life, and to be as healthy and happy as possible.”
For example, studies have shown that non-bioidentical testosterone may increase the risk of breast cancer in women. So, we are told that when prescribing testosterone to women, we should warn of the risk of breast cancer. The problem is that bioidentical testosterone has, in sharp contrast, been shown to REDUCE the risk of breast cancer in women. In fact, bioidentical testosterone is sometimes used to TREAT advanced breast cancer when other treatments have failed. So how does it possibly make sense that bioidentical testosterone causes breast cancer?
Worldwide, testosterone therapy has been used successfully for women for decades. In the U.S., we tend to hold on to the many misconceptions about testosterone therapy, and thus deprive women of the many benefits. Only by addressing these fears, and using currently available scientific data to debunk the myths, will we be able to move forward as a medical community and begin to give women the full benefit of hormone therapy – to improve life, and to be as healthy and happy as possible.
If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned here, call NOW to get your life back! We’re here to answer all of your questions. So, talk with us TODAY about optimizing your health and feeling your best with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
Call us at 561-826-3800 or click to make an appointment to address your questions and discuss your options today!