LET'S TALK TESTOSTERONE IN PERIMENOPAUSENov 23, 2023
Perimenopause is the time of fluctuating hormones. But while we know that oestrogen and progesterone are big players during this time, one overlooked hormone is testosterone.
Yes, that’s right – your testosterone could be a driver behind your perimenopausal symptoms! But how does this happen? Let’s examine how this hormone works in your body, and what you can do if it’s out of balance.
What is testosterone?
First up, let’s cover what testosterone is. You might know of it as the male sex hormone – and while it is primarily that, it’s not exclusively for guys! In fact, it’s just as crucial for us ladies as it is for the men, although we have it in much lower levels.
So instead, let’s look at testosterone as a sex hormone that supports the health of both sexes.
In women, testosterone is produced in two locations – the ovaries and the adrenals. It works in synergy with your other sex hormones like oestrogen and progesterone, and as a result, it can influence far more than just your reproductive system!
Why testosterone is important for women
Now that we know that testosterone is important for women, let’s explore why. The roles of testosterone in women’s health include:
- Supporting muscle strength
- Maintaining adequate bone density
- Contributing to energy levels
- Regulating mood
- Cognitive function
- Sexual function (including maintaining a healthy libido)
Although both sexes need testosterone and it has similar areas of effect within the body, it can still act differently! The most common example here is how high testosterone can lead to weight gain in females, but in males, it’s low testosterone that causes weight gain.
PS – if you’re curious whether low testosterone is making your partner cranky and unmotivated, make sure you give this a read.
How does it change throughout perimenopause?
Quick reminder: every perimenopause can look different, depending on what’s happening. But what we typically expect is that testosterone will slowly decline throughout perimenopause. The exception to this is if you have something like ovary removal surgery, which can cause a sudden decline.
Because testosterone has been known as the male hormone for so long, the research of its effects in women is lacking. And when you look into research around the changes in the massively misunderstood phase of perimenopause? It’s even less!
But from what we do know, lower testosterone during perimenopause could cause:
- Reduced sex drive and sexual satisfaction
- Fatigue and reduction in energy levels
- Muscle fatigue and weakness
- Mood swings
- Cognitive effects such as poor concentration and brain fog
- Loss of bone density
- Vasomotor symptoms (aka hot flushes)
The problem here? Perimenopause is a time of many fluctuating hormones. Sex hormones, thyroid hormones, stress hormones and even hormones like insulin can all be erratic. So it’s difficult for us to pinpoint which one is the driver of the problem – especially as it could be more than one.
How to maintain a healthy testosterone level
There is a trend recently where some GPs are prescribing testosterone replacement therapy in perimenopause. And while this could alleviate some of the symptoms, it can cause even more problems.
Testosterone levels influence the other sex hormones, so high doses of testosterone could throw the other hormones off balance even further. Not to mention, high testosterone in women causes insulin resistance and weight gain – two of the big challenges you may already face during perimenopause!
Oh and in case that wasn’t enough, it could also cause:
- Hirsutism (hair growth in unwanted places including face and chest)
- Changes to liver function and lipids such as cholesterol levels
- Increase in aggressive behaviour and mood swings
- Increased risk of hypertension and metabolic syndrome (eek!)
All of that is a big no for me, personally. So that’s why I want to share some tips on how to keep your testosterone level happy without resorting to replacement therapy.
Move your body and get strong
Regular exercise is one of the easiest ways to support testosterone production. Strength training should be your first priority – it’s crucial for testosterone, plus it maintains muscle mass and strength to counteract any loss you might have experienced.
And if your partner might be struggling with low testosterone too? This works for them too – get moving together and you can both reap the benefits!
You can also add in some cardio for some overall hormone balance and to protect your heart health. But remember to not go overboard – intense cardio can increase your stress hormones and feed into your symptoms!
Reduce that stress
If you’ve read any of my blogs before, this one won’t be a shock to you. But stress can interfere with just about every hormone in your body, including testosterone. So now is the time to look at two big things:
- How you can reduce your stressors (outsourcing, getting support, saying no and taking things off your plate)
- How you can better manage the stress that you inevitably experience (aka increasing your stress tolerance)
Once you have these answered, it’s time to put it into action.
Get some good sleep already
I know, sleep and perimenopause don’t always go hand in hand. But there is pretty much nothing that sleep can’t help – and that includes testosterone!
Learn more about why sleep is a non-negotiable here. And if you can’t sleep thanks to perimenopause? Here are some tips to help.
Balance your diet
Food is your medicine, so make it work for your goals! The keys for nutrition that supports your hormonal balance are:
- Protein-rich meals with healthy fats and complex carbs – if this sounds impossible, grab my Balanced Meal Formula here
- Choose nutrient-dense options – we want a good amount of vitamins and minerals such as zinc and vitamin D to support hormone production
- Tailor it to your individual needs – some foods can be problematic or inflammatory for you, but healthy and nourishing for another! That’s why I’m such a nerd for achieving health goals using personalised nutrition plans
Get some personalised support
There are other options that can help, depending on your circumstances. For example, specific nutrients, herbs and even adaptogens could help. But you want to make sure they are tailored to your needs. So reach out to your friendly naturopath about getting some individualised support.
Wish you could experience a calmer transition through perimenopause?
While symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, MIA libido and mood swings are common, they don’t have to be inevitable! We can take steps to smooth the hormonal waves and put you back in the driver’s seat again.
If you are ready to feel calm, less stressed and able to put yourself first, book in for a free Clarity Call today. Together, we can explore how I can help you to support and nourish yourself – mind, body and spirit.
Is it perimenopause hormone changes or something else making you cranky, exhausted, overwhelmed, and gaining weight in your 40s?
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