Testosterone – Turns out I Need It
(Video Version can be found on my Facebook Page – Peggy Smith Wellness, August 23, 2018)
This post will get personal, so if you’re not into gory details about hormones you might want to change the channel.
So I found out last week I have really really low T (after reading lots about testosterone on the internets it appears “Low T” is the cool, hip way to say you feel kinda crummy and you don’t know why and you never would have imagined it would be testosterone because you’re a GIRL!).
So here’s some science.
Testosterone in women comes from the ovaries and adrenal glands and the amount of it we have increases during puberty and pregnancy and then declines with age and the start of menopause (this is where the guys turn the channel). A sudden drop in it can affect us ladies by lowering our libido, our energy levels and our mood! And to think I was blaming estrogen all this time! Testosterone belongs to a group of hormones known as androgens and they impact fertility, sex drive, red blood cell production and muscle mass and fat distribution. The numbers I found online suggest that normal is in the range of about 15-70. Mine was 4.
I’m going to go ahead and say that finding out was honestly a huge relief because I have been doing all the other stuff I could think of to try and feel better. Eating just as clean as is possible when you live in a world with ChickFilA and Mint Moose Track ice cream, exercising often, going to bed in order to get around 7 and a half hours of sleep, minimizing stress when I can (but is that truly possible at all times??). I wasn’t in a terrible place, but just not in a great place either. I’m going to go through the list of common symptoms that are signs women might have low T – and without me giving away all my secrets, let’s just say I put a check in the box next to a good number of these.
Fatigue: Women with low testosterone often have lower energy levels. And a telltale sign this is not from other things is that even if you get a good amount of sleep you still feel tired.
Disrupted sleep: Low levels can interrupt otherwise healthy sleep patterns. Women suffer from bouts of insomnia, sleep apnea or find that they wake throughout the night.
Weight Gain: A loss of muscle tissue, which happens with low T may be followed by a sudden unexplained increase in body fat, particularly in the abdomen area. From what I found online, researchers believe decreasing testosterone levels is the leading cause of midlife weight gain in women! These symptoms start to appear in the late 30’s but often we assume they are a part of getting older, but getting our levels in order might actually help us gain back a normal amount of muscle and lose some fat!
Decreased Libido: Testosterone plays a critical role in sexual arousal for both men and women and folks of both genders who suffer from Low T will naturally have a decreased interest in sex. And that’s all I have to say about that. (In my best Forrest Gump voice).
Depression: Testosterone helps regulate more than just energy levels and libido – it also plays and important role in mood stabilization and mental focus! Other symptoms are a general lack of motivation and a loss of interest in things we used to enjoy. I will say that this is one of the complaints that is very real for me. It doesn’t rise to the level of me saying I’m depressed, but I would describe it as having a “low mood” for a good portion of the month.
Osteoporosis: Testosterone is an important contributor to bone production and maintenance and so if levels are low, over the course of years the body just can’t maintain bones as well as it should. Declining testosterone is one of the leading causes of osteoporosis – a condition which affects millions of women.
Irregular Periods: This can manifest as periods that aren’t predictable or are lighter than usual or if levels are really depleted possibly no period at all. Some of these symptoms are going to be hard to distinguish from the onset of menopause if you are in the age range where that might be going on, but if you are having these issues and you are younger than the typical onset of menopause, you might consider having your levels tested.
Anxiety: A decrease in normal levels is associated with increased anxiety. Levels can be out of whack to the point folks suffer from panic attacks. This goes back to the role that testosterone plays in regulating mood and brain chemistry. We don’t want to be misdiagnosed with anxiety and put on unnecessary drugs when what is actually going on is low T!
I bet I know what you are thinking – and it’s the reason I didn’t put this all together without blood work – these symptoms are pretty vague and could be attributed to so many things.
I think what I’ve learned is to not jump to any conclusions about what is going on with our health. It is so important that we listen to our bodies and not ignore the signals they send us when something isn’t quite right. I am so thankful that Dr. Farrah at Pathway Wellness did my blood work as it related to my vitamin levels and found this in the process. I’m thankful they are offering me some options and I’m happy to talk to anyone who is interested in what I decided to do – just private message me!
Putting on our detective hat is so critical when it comes to our health. I can imagine I would have been able to walk into a number of places with these symptoms and be prescribed something for either depression or anxiety or both or even estrogen replacement. Knowing what I know now, that would only have masked what is actually going on without improving the issue whatsoever! Nutrition and medicine and what’s going on in our bodies is confusing, no doubt – but our bodies want desperately to be in balance. Do your best to surround yourself with food, movement, friends, family and practitioners to help you find that balance.
If I can be of help to you in this regard, please let me know.
Until next time friends.
XO – Peggy