There are two things you may not know: Low testosterone in women is MUCH more common than most of us realize, AND it happens much earlier in life than you would expect.
But why should we be worried about testosterone? Isn’t it a male hormone?
Testosterone is one of the three important sex hormones, along with estrogen and progesterone. Testosterone is commonly associated with men — and although men have testosterone levels that are 10 to 20 times higher than women, it plays vital roles in both men’s and women’s bodies.
Women produce testosterone in their ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat. It’s also the most abundant biologically active hormone in women — even more so than estrogen. Testosterone is a “build you up” hormone, and as women, we require adequate levels to feel lean, vital, and strong.
Most women have plenty of testosterone and its precursor, Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), until their mid-20s — when their levels start to decline. It’s one of the reasons why 20-year-old women have lots of energy, sex drive, confidence, and muscle and bone strength.
It’s no surprise that when our testosterone levels begin to significantly wane in our 30s, it can be distressing — both physically and mentally.
WHAT HAPPENS TO WOMEN’S TESTOSTERONE LEVELS AS WE AGE
Testosterone gradually starts to decrease in both men and women beginning in their twenties.
In fact, there is a dramatic 50% decline in testosterone levels in women between ages 20 and 40, and DHEA drops even more sharply than testosterone as we age.
Despite what many women assume, natural menopause has less effect on testosterone levels than you think — the drop typically precedes menopause and the worst of perimenopause by many years.
Other factors that can contribute to low testosterone in women include (1):
- Having a hysterectomy, especially if the ovaries are removed
- Birth control pills
- Certain medications
- Chronic gland fatigue
- Pituitary dysfunction
Lifestyle plays a major role, too, especially considering what you eat.
Luckily, you don’t have to suffer from low testosterone levels and let it wreak havoc on your life.
But first, here are some key signs and symptoms that may indicate you have an imbalance in testosterone levels.
SYMPTOMS OF LOW TESTOSTERONE IN WOMEN
Some of the most common symptoms of low testosterone in women include:
- Hair loss
- Thinning and dry skin
- Trouble sleeping
- Overall strength decrease
- Reduced muscle tone
- Weight gain, especially around the middle
- Problems with fertility
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Loss of bone density
- Fatigue for no obvious reason
- Less interest in intimacy
- Mood changes, including feeling depressed or anxious
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of “pep” or overall motivation
Other conditions may mimic the symptoms of low testosterone levels in women, such as Hypothyroidism, iron deficiency, and depression.
Imbalances of other hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, can worsen symptoms. It’s always important to see a doctor and run a DUTCH test to see what’s going on and look into all potential underlying issues.
SYMPTOMS OF HIGH TESTOSTERONE IN WOMEN
While it’s much more common for women to have low testosterone levels, it’s also possible for them to be too high.
High testosterone in women can also be a symptom of other underlying conditions like insulin resistance and PCOS.
It’s also important to see your doctor if you have any symptoms which can signal too much testosterone (2):
- Periods that cease before entering menopause
- Unusual amounts of body hair
- Darker hair that grows on the chin or upper lip
- Deepening tone of voice
- Acne or oily skin
- Male pattern baldness, especially around the hairline
- Increased muscle mass or bulking up
HOW YOU CAN NATURALLY BOOST YOUR TESTOSTERONE LEVELS
Modern medicine has a huge knowledge gap regarding testing and even administering testosterone. In fact, most doctors fail to ever test for low testosterone and have no idea that women experience such declining levels during their reproductive years.
And upsettingly, even if your doctor were to test for testosterone levels and discover they were low, there is currently no available FDA-approved treatment for women.
However, there are some simple, natural lifestyle changes you can make to give your testosterone levels a natural boost. And what’s better, you feel an overall boost in your daily energy, strength, confidence, sex drive, and metabolism!
1. EXERCISE AND LIFT WEIGHTS
Moving your body and especially lifting weights is crucial to boosting testosterone levels.
Research shows that people who exercise regularly have higher testosterone levels (3). In the elderly, exercise increases testosterone levels, fitness, and reaction time.
I recommend incorporating weight lifting two to three times a week for about 30 minutes a session.
2. EAT HORMONE LOVING FOODS
Here are some food recommendations that really move the needle for testosterone. However, these diet recommendations won’t just boost testosterone — they’re great for your hormones overall.
Make your own food instead of eating out. This is truly a golden rule! Nothing beats eating at home, where you control all of the ingredients and know what’s going into your food.
Get sufficient protein. This means approximately 0.75 to 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.
For instance, for a woman who weighs 130 pounds and has a lean body mass of 100lbs, I recommend between 85 to 100 grams of protein a day. You may need more than that if you’re athletic or exercising frequently.
It’s important to note that too much protein consumption can get converted into sugar in the body, driving up insulin and lowering testosterone. However, don’t let this sway you from incorporating a healthy amount of protein into your diet.
It has been my experience that most women aren’t getting enough protein. Especially as we enter our 40s and beyond, a low protein diet leads to a decline in muscle mass and optimal metabolic function.
HORMONE-LOVING FOODS TO ADD TO YOUR DIET
Now that you know the importance of protein, here are some other key testosterone-boosting foods to incorporate into your diet:
- Eggs (organic, free-range): These are rich in protein, vitamin B6, and omega-3. One egg a day is typically recommended and safe for most people.
- Almonds and pumpkin seeds: These are both rich in zinc, magnesium, and protein. Aim for one handful of almonds (approximately 20) and sprinkle a handful of pumpkin seeds in your smoothies, salads, and soups daily!
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale: These are rich in magnesium, vitamin B6, and iron. Eat daily in salads and blend into your smoothies for some added bulk!
- Wild oily fish such as salmon and mackerel: These are rich in omega-3 and protein. Aim for at least two to three portions weekly.
- Beans (particularly black, kidney, or pinto beans): These are rich in protein, zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium. Lentils are also an excellent vegetarian source of protein.
FOODS TO LIMIT OR AVOID
Some foods that can negatively affect your testosterone levels include:
- Pastries and desserts (sugar and refined grains)
- Diet beverages and foods
- Restaurant food
What’s most important is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Don’t deprive yourself of the occasional treat — but remember to prioritize those that will make your body and mind feel the best!
I know when it comes to adopting a hormone-loving diet full of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, it can be difficult to come up with easy, delicious recipes. To help you find some easy, fun ways to incorporate all these foods, you can download my hormone-balancing recipe ebook for free!
It has some of my favorite recipes:
- Creamy raspberry chocolate shake
- Pesto salmon bowl
- Turkey or lamb burger with sweet potato fries
3. CUT OUT ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS, ESPECIALLY XENOESTROGENS
The worst culprit is bisphenol A (BPA), as it messes with testosterone balance in your body.
A really easy way to avoid this is to stop using single-use plastic — and any plastic, for that matter.
When it comes to food, for example:
- Reduce the amount of take-out you get.
- Don’t store your food in plastic.
- Avoid canned food.
- Don’t heat anything in a plastic container.
- Try not to drink out of plastic containers.
4. MINIMIZE STRESS AND ELEVATED CORTISOL LEVELS
It’s no secret that chronic stress destroys everything in the body. And as you likely know, your hormones are the first to take a hit. Stress is one of the biggest root causes of low testosterone in men and women.
I strongly recommend daily mind and body practices, like yoga and nature walks. They also nourish the nervous system and adrenals, which is an awesome bonus for your health and well-being.
5. GET SOME SUN AND TAKE A VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENT
Vitamin D is quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular vitamins — which makes sense, considering up to 80% of us may not be getting enough vitamin D every day. Research has shown it has various health benefits and may also work as a natural testosterone booster.
Vitamin D and magnesium are two of my personal favorite supplements.
A 12-month study found that supplementing with around 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day increased testosterone levels by around 25% (4).
In the elderly, vitamin D and calcium also optimized testosterone levels, which led to a reduced risk of falling.
To boost testosterone and reap the other benefits of vitamin D, try to get regular exposure to sunlight or take around 5,000 IU of a vitamin D3 supplement daily. To get vitamin D from sunlight, you need to expose your skin to the sun — which does increase the risk of skin cancer, so be mindful with exposure.
The magic amount of vitamin D for many people (including myself) is 5,000 IU. That’s why my Vitamin D Complete is 5000 IU with vitamin K1 and K2 for better absorption and utilization.
6. TAKE VITAMIN, MINERAL, AND HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS
Other supplements to consider for optimizing testosterone include:
- B vitamins
- Vitamins C and A (These are staples for overall hormone function, especially sex hormones.)
As for herbal recommendations, these herbs have shown the most promise in boosting testosterone levels:
- Ginger root
- Ginkgo biloba
7. GET A HEALTHY DOSE OF SEX AND INTIMACY
Testosterone increases sex drive, but studies show that a healthy sex life where you enjoy regular sex also has a positive effect on testosterone.
Whether solo or partnered, sex and intimacy have seemingly endless benefits for our health (5).
GIVE YOUR BODY A NATURAL TESTOSTERONE BOOST TODAY
When you begin to consistently adopt these lifestyle habits, your testosterone will naturally go up, and you will notice more toned muscles, a leaner, energetic body filled with vitality, and an amazing mood boost!
Of the seven tips that I mentioned, the BIG needle movers are:
- Weight lifting
- Minimizing BPA exposure
Don’t settle for out-of-balance hormones and low testosterone levels — you deserve to feel your healthiest, happiest, most confident self!
Don’t forget to grab your free hormone recipe guide if you haven’t already. And if you want to add a high-quality vitamin D supplement to your daily routine, be sure to grab Vitamin D Complete today!
FREE DOWNLOAD: Dr. Mariza’s Top 11 Supplements for Hormone Health
Ready to take charge of your own health?