Testosterone Supplements for Women — What Works and What Doesn’t
Let’s talk about testosterone supplements for women.
Testosterone replacement therapy—it’s a hot topic in the healthcare industry right now, along with hormone therapy in general. Resting near the top of the debate is the use of testosterone supplements for women.
We’ve never been swayed much by the rhetoric on either side—we base our work on facts. And the facts are that testosterone replacement therapy can be quite effective at treating some symptoms of testosterone deficiency (especially lack of sexual desire) for certain segments of women.
Most notably, testosterone supplements for women have been found to be quite effective at treating lack of libido in postmenopausal women—click here and here to read several articles about testosterone replacement therapy for women with menopause.
However, the methods that healthcare providers recommend for administering said testosterone is up for even more debate. Some would recommend testosterone supplements for women that come in a pill form (we highly recommend against this—these are neither effective nor safe).
Others would say that the best testosterone supplements for women are topicals from compounding pharmacies. While this a much more popular method, we believe it has severe drawbacks that should be avoided unless no other options are available (although this video is about male levels of testosterone, the principles are the same for testosterone supplements for women—watch our video on the deficiencies of topicals here).
So what do we recommend?
Testosterone Supplements for Women — Injections Work Best
When it comes to testosterone replacement therapy for women, we take essentially the same general approach that we take with men—weekly intramuscular injections of testosterone of a dosage that is unique for each individual.
Obviously, the doses need to be much smaller for women—about 10% of the amount we give to men generally. Still, the procedures and courses of therapy are almost identical.
While it is quite common for other healthcare providers to recommend testosterone supplements for women in the form of compounded medications, we recommend weekly testosterone injections instead because it allows for more precise titration of the dosage. It’s very important to keep testosterone levels in a goldilocks zone of sorts—not too high and not too low.
You can probably imagine why this might be important—a dosage of testosterone supplements for women that is too high can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects, and a dose that is too low is ineffective.
The Problem With Topical Testosterone Supplements for Women
The main problem when it comes to topical testosterone supplements for women is that these supplements are not well absorbed by the body. In fact, up to 40% of participants in some studies were unable to absorb the medication, and those who did absorb the medication often found that their levels were much lower than the recommended dosage.
Topical testosterone supplements for women also have risks that are not to be found with injections, risks that are unique to topicals because of their method of application. Essentially, topicals can easily be transferred from the patient to other people for whom testosterone might be dangerous, such as the patient’s children or significant other. It can linger on clothing and bedding, adding further risk of spread to people for whom added testosterone could be damaging.
Testosterone injections eliminate these risks and other problems because they are absorbed at a much higher percentage through the muscle. Additionally, no excess medication is available to accidentally contaminate others.
However, there are some situations where topical testosterone supplements for women may be indicated—every patient is different, and we evaluate all parameters of a patient’s specific needs before recommending a course of action.
Testosterone Supplements for Women Should Generally Be Paired With Other Forms of Therapy
For most women, testosterone replacement therapy is insufficient. Hormones have a tendency to work in concert, and when one hormone is under or over performing, it can affect the action of others. In some women, testosterone replacement may be sufficient, but in others, estrogen or progesterone may also be indicated.
What’s important is to share as much with your healthcare provider as possible. When your healthcare provider has all the available information, they can more easily make an informed decision about which methods of treatment are best.