Testosterone is thought to solely be a hormone for men, hence the mindset that only men benefit from testosterone replacement therapy. But women can benefit from it too. Find out how it gave me my groove back.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This post is based on my personal experience and opinion.
Three and a half years ago my life as I knew it changed forever. I gave birth to my beautiful daughter and my autoimmune disease was activated. After giving birth, Hashimoto’s Disease took over my body and my life.
Hashimoto’s Disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid and ultimately leads to hypothyroidism and a nonfunctional thyroid. You can read about my experience here.
Why I Needed To Optimize My Hormones
It’s almost impossible to accurately describe how terrible I felt. I had debilitating fatigue that I would not wish upon anyone.
Additionally, my symptoms included weight gain, anxiety, mood swings, memory loss, depression, sluggishness, brain fog, low libido and insomnia.
Once I was accurately diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I was put on thyroid hormone replacement medication. Furthermore, I cut out all gluten and sugar from my diet. And I was on a daily regimen of high quality supplements for the Hashimoto’s.
I felt better, a lot better, but I knew I was not feeling as good as I should be. I still had some brain fog and memory issues. My energy levels were still low most days and my libido was still non-existent.
During my research on Hashimoto’s, I came across several articles on the importance of getting my hormones checked and optimized to help my body heal and to feel better overall.
I am in my mid-forties and knew I could possibly be in perimenopause, which could be exacerbating my health issues.
Then I read an amazing book called, The Hormone Cure: Reclaim Balance, Sleep and Sex Drive; Lose Weight; Feel Focused, Vital, and Energized Naturally with the Gottfried Protocol, by Dr. Sara Gottfried and knew it was time to get those hormones tested!
My Lab Results
Thankfully my estrogen and progesterone levels were optimized and in a healthy range already!
After mentally fist-pumping my body (prematurely), I learned that my testosterone levels were terrible!
As you can see, my testosterone came back ZERO. Like zero, zilch, NOTHING.
Women may not need as much testosterone as men but we still need some. Experts attribute hypothyroidism or low thyroid function with lower testosterone levels 1, so it was no surprise my levels were so bad.
Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Women2
Here is summary of symptoms if your body has low testosterone (these are a few, but not all, the symptoms from low testosterone). Click here for a comprehensive list.
- Thinning skin, or skin has lost its fullness
- Poor memory or concentration
- Loss of libido
- Depression or anxiety
- Gaining fat around abdomen or “love handles”
It’s difficult to ascertain which symptoms were caused by my Hashimoto’s and which were due to low testosterone. And perhaps there was an overlap. But based on my nonexistent T levels, I decided to try bioidentical testosterone replacement therapy.
What Is Bioidentical Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Bioidentical hormones are derived from plant estrogens that are chemically identical to those our body produces.
Studies have shown that bioidentical hormones have fewer side effects than synthetic hormones3.
Reported Benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy by Patients
- Enhanced libido and increased sexual desire
- Decreased body fat and greater capacity to get in shape
- Reduced fatigue and increased energy levels
- Increased mental clarity and concentration
- Improved memory
- Improved and stabilized mood
- Increased sense of overall well-being
Bioidentical testosterone for women come in various forms, including patches, creams, gels and pellets.
Because I have children, I did not want to risk transference, so I decided on the pellets.
Another benefit to pellet therapy is that it keeps hormone levels consistent through the day and avoids roller coaster like effects from orally administered or topically administered hormones.
What to Expect
First and foremost, there was NO PAIN. During my office visit, the insertion site (upper buttocks) was numbed. A small incision was made and my doctor inserted the pellets. Then the insertion site was covered with a small bandage.
I was instructed to remove the bandage after the third day and to avoid a bath or exercising for 24 hours. My backside was a little tender on days two and three but not anything I couldn’t handle.
I was told I would start feeling the effects after about a week with full effects being felt by week three. I felt the effects two weeks in. The pellets will last about 3-4 months and the cost is $400 each time.
I know many women are afraid of embarrassing side effects. The misconceptions range from your voice getting deeper to growing a beard!
Seriously, it is such a small amount, and the goal is to get to an optimized level for women not men. I experienced zero negative side effects. I can assure you that if I had, I would not have continued my therapy.
Did It Help
It’s now been over a year since that first insertion. My experience with testosterone replacement has been life-changing. I have regained my energy and motivation. As a mom to three this is a Godsend!
My mental clarity has been restored and my mood swings, insomnia and anxiety are gone. It absolutely accelerated my weight loss. And yes, my libido returned! So, yes indeed, it has done wonders for my quality of life.
It’s important to note that I can tell when it is time to go back by the end of the third month (many women can go four months). When the third month goes by my temper can get a little short, I have a difficult time finding words and I can get a little forgetful. It’s subtle but I can tell.
Testosterone replacement therapy may not be for you and I highly recommend that you do your own research and discuss it with your doctor. But it has significantly improved my quality of life and I am grateful.