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Myths and Facts About Testosterone Therapy in Women
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) It's difficult to go a day without seeing a commercial promoting testosterone replacement in men. It's a great idea because testosterone is the dominant male steroid hormone, and low testosterone has been shown to increase risk of death from all causes. But here is a surprising fact: Testosterone is the most abundant steroid hormone in women too, and it is just as biologically active in women as it is in men. So why don't we see commercials for testosterone therapy in women? Renown researchers and anti-aging specialists Drs. Rebecca Glaser and Constantine Dimitrakakis have given us the answer to that question in their recently released report entitled Testosterone therapy in women: Myths and misconceptions.
What testosterone offers women
Testosterone provides a wealth of benefits to the mind and body of a woman that extend well beyond the bedroom. It provides motivation, the will to be assertive, a sense of control and power, and enhanced feelings of well being. It enables women to live their lives with zest and gusto. Without testosterone, women exist as if in black and white. It is testosterone that brings them into living color.
The anti-aging benefits of testosterone are legendary:
What happens when testosterone levels decline? Your risk of the following increases greatly:
Testosterone peaks in women during their early 20's, and begins a steady decline from there. By the time a women has reached natural menopause she has sustained a severe loss of testosterone, and she may often wonder what happened to that woman who she once was. Testosterone therapy in women is a viable answer.
Are these myths and conceptions keeping you from a better life?
Here are excepts from Testosterone therapy in women: Myths and misconceptions:
Myth: Testosterone may increase the risk of breast cancer - As early as 1937 it was recognized that breast cancer was an estrogen sensitive cancer, that testosterone was antagonistic to estrogen and could be used to treat breast cancer as well as other estrogen sensitive diseases, including breast pain, chronic mastitis, endometriosis, uterine fibroids and dysfunctional uterine bleeding.
Clinical trials in primates and humans have confirmed that testosterone has beneficial effect on breast tissue by decreasing breast proliferation and preventing stimulation from estradiol. It is the testosterone to estradiol ratio, or the balance of these hormones that is breast protective. Testosterone does not increase, and likely lowers risk of breast cancer in women treated with estrogen therapy. Fact: Testosterone is breast protective and does not increase the risk of breast cancer.
Myth: Testosterone is a male hormone - Even the scientific community refers to testosterone as the "male hormone"! Men do have high circulating levels of testosterone, but testosterone in women is measured at 10-fold higher units than estradiol, the dominant form of estrogen in women. The measured ranges of androgen precursors are similar in both sexes.
Without any clear rational, estrogen was assumed to be the hormone for replacement therapy in women. However, as long ago as 1937, testosterone was reported to be effective in the treatment of menopause symptoms. From a biologic perspective, women and men are similar, having both functional estrogen receptors (ERs) and functional androgen receptors (ARs). Testosterone in balance with lower amounts of estrodiol is equally important for the health of both sexes. Fact: Testosterone is the most abundant biologically active hormone in women.
Myth: Testoserone's only role in women is sex drive and libido - Testosterone is essential for women's physical and mental health and well being. The role of testosterone in sexual function and libido is only a small fraction of the physiologic effect of testosterone in women. Receptors for testosterone are located in almost all tissues including breast, heart, blood vessels, gastrointestinal tract, lung, brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, bladder, uterus, ovaries, endocrine glands, vaginal tissue, skin, bone, bone marrow, synovium, muscle and adipose (fat) tissue. Fact: Testosterone is essential for women's physical and mental well being.
Myth: Testosterone masculinizes females - It has long been recognized that testosterone is dose dependent, and that in lower doses, it stimulates femininity. Fact: Outside of supra-pharmacologic doses of synthetic androgens, testosterone does not have a masculinizing effect on females or female fetuses.
Myth: Testosterone causes hoarseness and voice change - Although hoarseness is more prevalent in women than in males, it is not the result of testosterone. Fact: There is no conclusive evidence that testosterone causes hoarseness or irreversible vocal cord changes in women.
Testosterone causes hair loss - There is no evidence that testosterone therapy causes hair loss in men or women. Hair loss is a complicated, multifactorial, genetically determined process, with dihydrotestosterone (DHT) thought to be the active androgen behind male pattern baldness. Obesity and insulin resistance can lead to increased DHT in hair follicles.
About one third of women actually experience hair loss or thinning as a result of testosterone decline. When treated with subcutaneous testosterone therapy, hair re-growth is seen. Fact: Testosterone therapy increases scalp hair in women.
Myth: Testosterone has adverse effects on the heart - Testosterone has a beneficial effect on lean body mass, glucose metabolism, and lipid profiles in men and women, and has been successfully used to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Testosterone acts as a vasodilator in both sexes, and has immune-modulating properties. It has a beneficial effect on cardiac muscle.
Low testosterone is an independent predictor of reduced exercise capacity and poor clinical outcomes in patients with heart failure. As in men, supplemental testosterone has been shown to improve functional capacity, insulin resistance, and muscle strength in women with congestive heart failure. Fact: There is substantial evidence that testosterone is cardio-protective and that adequate levels decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Myth: Testosterone causes liver damage - Although high doses of oral synthetic androgens (methyltestosterone) may negatively affect the liver, subcutaneous testosterone therapy bypasses the liver. There are no adverse effects on the liver, liver enzymes, or clotting factors. Non-oral testosterone does not increase risk of deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Fact: Non-oral testosterone does not adversely affect the liver or increase clotting factors.
Myth: Testosterone increases aggression - In women subcutaneous testosterone decreases aggression, irritability and anxiety in more than 90% of patients treated for symptoms of androgen deficiency. This is not a new finding: androgen therapy has been used to treat PMS for more than 60 years. Fact: Testosterone therapy decreases anxiety, irritability and aggression.
Myth: The safety of testosterone use in women has not been established - There have been many reviews on the safety of testosterone therapy in women. Subcutaneous testosterone has been used safely since 1938. Long-term data exists on the efficacy, safety and tolerability of doses up to 225 mg in up to 40 years of therapy. In addition, long term follow up studies on supra-pharmacological doses used with transgender patients reported no increase in mortality, breast cancer, vascular disease, or other major health problem. Fact: The safety of non-oral testosterone therapy in women is well established, including long-term follow up.
There are few greater authorities on women's health than Drs. Rebecca Glaser and Constantine Dimitrakakis, and they have provided information that the power behind the medical establishment does not want you to know. It is truth you can rely on.
Read their complete report here
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