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What Happens When A Woman Takes A Testosterone Booster?

Tracy Thompson
Published by Tracy Thompson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: January 17, 2023
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Increasing free testosterone can be beneficial on multiple levels, not only for building muscle and increasing sex drive.

For that reason, testosterone boosters have long been a mainstay for many health-conscious males. However, I would argue that in certain circumstances women can also reap the benefits of these supplements.

Working as a trainer, I have seen first-hand what T-boosters can do for women’s health when it comes to losing weight and gaining muscle mass, though it’s crucial to know when it’s safe to include these supplements.

To better understand the science behind this, I asked my dietitian to give us a rundown of what happens if a woman starts taking testosterone booster supplements.

Quick Summary

  • Optimal levels of testosterone in women have key functions: maintaining sex drive, fertility, producing red blood cells, and fat distribution.
  • Low testosterone can lead to sleep issues, poor sex drive, fertility issues, and muscle weakness, whereas the symptoms of high T levels include balding, deepening of the voice, acne, and reduced breast size.
  • A boost in testosterone can help improve a woman’s sex drive, fitness levels, and beauty.
  • Although T-boosters are generally safe for women, they main contain certain unsuitable ingredients.

How Do Testosterone Boosters Affect Women?

woman at the gym

Testosterone, sometimes called the male hormone, is primarily associated with the male body, but it’s also present in women’s ovaries and adrenal glands, although in smaller amounts.

The optimal testosterone balance is critical for both genders’ vitality, body composition (muscle growth and fat distribution), sexual function, disease prevention, bone, and general health [1].

That said, testosterone boosters for women are natural supplements that can do a fantastic job for women adjusting their blood testosterone, contributing to faster muscle gain, better mood, sex drive, and better sleep [2].

However, it’s important to note that an excess of testosterone in women can cause more harm than good. Therefore, it’s essential to consult a professional before taking these supplements.

“Once a woman decides to add a testosterone booster to the supplement regime, she can start noticing better sleep, energy, strength gains, and muscle gains. And, it is also possible that you may notice recovery in the gym to improve. I would suggest cutting the men’s dose by one-half or a third to start out. Increase in the course of a 12-week cycle. And, I would also add in a support for the liver, such as milk thistle.”

- Tammy Patnode, Head coach & Founder of Team Tammy Fitness Background

Normal Testosterone Levels For Women

Testosterone in the female body can vary over time, depending on various circumstances.

Normal levels of testosterone have at least three important roles in women:

  • They keep women’s bones healthy [3].
  • They improve cognitive functions [4].
  • They promote a healthy sex drive [5].

Sometimes you’ll experience side effects of too high or too low testosterone. Other times, you might not notice any symptoms at all.

That’s why it’s useful to know what normal T levels look like.

Below you can see the normal total testosterone range for women depending on their age [3].

Age

  • 6 months–9 years
  • 10–11 years
  • 12–16 years
  • 17–18 years
  • 19+ years        

Testosterone Range

  • <7–20 ng/dL
  • <7–44 ng/dL
  • <7–75 ng/dL
  • < 20–75 ng/dL
  • < 8–60 ng/dL

Low Testosterone in Women: Symptoms and Causes

woman with insomnia and another squeezing in her jeans

Although testosterone is considered a male hormone, low testosterone levels can cause the following symptoms in women [7]:

  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Lowered Bone Density
  • Sleep Issues
  • Poor Sex Drive
  • Vaginal Dryness
  • Fertility Issues
  • Irregularities In The Menstrual Cycle
  • Weight Gain

Just like men, women naturally produce less testosterone as they get older.

Testosterone levels reach their peak when women are in their 20s. Postmenopausal women will produce about a quarter of the peak amount of testosterone [8].

This is normal and doesn’t necessarily call for testosterone therapy.

For now, testosterone therapy is mainly reserved for postmenopausal women that suffer from hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), which causes a lack of sexual desire or interest [9].

Besides menopause, there are a few other possible causes of low testosterone in women:

  • Adrenal insufficiency: Adrenal glands produce small quantities of testosterone in both men and women. Adrenal insufficiency occurs when they’re not working properly [10].
  • Hypopituitarism: Hypopituitarism is a condition in which the pituitary gland isn’t producing enough hormones or fails to produce specific hormones [11], such as testosterone.
  • Oophorectomy: Oophorectomy is a surgical procedure that removes women’s ovaries [12]. Since ovaries produce the male sex hormone, this procedure may result in testosterone deficiency.
  • Oral estrogen therapy: Estrogen, the female sex hormone, may reduce testosterone production [13].

If you suspect you suffer from low testosterone, I suggest you consult your doctor first to determine the cause of your issues.

Establishing Your Testosterone Levels

Blood test for testosterone levels

You can determine your testosterone levels by ordering a blood test through your GP. They’ll probably want to examine your symptoms first before scheduling a test.

They can test you for either total or free testosterone. However, it’s best if you get tested for both [17].

“Many people will check total testosterone, but forget about free testosterone levels. However, (...) some men may have normal total testosterone levels, but low free testosterone—so if you only test for one and not the other, you and your provider may not be getting the whole picture.”

- Chimene Richa, MD

So, you could have normal total testosterone but low free testosterone. A general test may not show this, and your doctor could get the wrong idea about your state.

Another thing to keep in mind is that testosterone levels tend to fluctuate during the day.

That’s why most experts recommend that you get tested around 10 AM when T levels tend to be at their highest [18].

You should always consult your healthcare provider if you notice any of these side effects.

Related Articles:

Is It Safe For Women To Take Testosterone Boosters?

woman taking a capsule

Many people mix up testosterone boosters and prohormones, but they are not the same.

When testosterone production is low, prohormones are a type of drug sometimes used in testosterone therapy.

They are not the same as anabolic steroids but are synthetic chemicals that structurally resemble this hormone. [6].

While some early clinical trials of these drugs were promising, later studies threw some doubts on how effective they are, especially for long-term use [7].

Unlike some invasive interventions like testosterone injections, these boosters are health and dietary supplements that contain natural ingredients like herbs, minerals, and vitamin D. Therefore, they are safe for women to take.

That said, like any supplement, it’s easy to run into T-boosters that are of poor quality and contain ineffective ingredients.

The key to ensuring safety when using a testosterone supplement is always to check and read the label. Make sure the manufacturer disclosed the complete list of ingredients and the individual doses. Also, choose products that your doctor or the FDA approves.

What Are the Side Effects of Testosterone Boosters in Women?

Woman with abdominal pain

More testosterone isn’t always better. High levels in women can be just as problematic as the lower ones.

That’s why it’s vital for women taking T-boosters to understand what might happen when there’s too much testosterone in the blood.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Women with increased testosterone levels are at risk of a pattern of symptoms known as PCOS.

This condition can undermine a woman’s sex drive and overall health, causing many health complications such as irregular periods, enlarged ovaries, and even hindered pregnancy and fertility rates.

Hirsutism

Hirsutism is another hormonal condition caused by higher testosterone levels in women. It results in body hair growth in unwanted places, such as the back, face, and chest.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

A woman holding her stomach from pain

CAH directly affects a woman’s adrenal glands, resulting in the overproduction of hormones like testosterone.

This can result in the development of masculine characteristics, such as deepening of the voice, frontal balding, acne, and excessive perspiration.

Additionally, high adrenaline hormone levels can result in other symptoms, such as anxiety, raised blood pressure levels, and jitteriness.

Over prolonged periods of time, these elevated adrenaline levels can wear down the body as a constant state of ‘flight or fight’ places stress on the body.

Hypersexuality

Testosterone is also known as sexual medicine because it increases a woman’s sex drive.

This can be great news for postmenopausal women looking to spice up their sex life yet are hindered by low sexual desire.

As a result, some doctors prescribe androgen-like testosterone or the steroid hormone DHEA to treat low libido among women.

However, a high sex drive fueled by high testosterone can also come with many issues, especially if they can’t act on their sexual desire.

Too much testosterone can cause women to suffer from issues like swollen breasts, which can cause sensitivity around tender areas.

This can hinder sex and similar activities in the bedroom.

Cardiovascular Diseases

A woman having a chest pain

Higher than normal testosterone production levels or long-term use of testosterone drugs may also expose women to cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks.

This is caused by an increase in bad cholesterol levels, leading to clogs in the arteries and veins.

Weakened Emotional Health

People are generally controlled by their emotions - especially when it comes to women.

Hormones such as estrogen keep a woman’s emotions balanced and are responsible for regulating diet patterns, balancing their emotional state, and even influencing their sex drive.

When there is an excess of masculine hormones such as androgens and testosterone,  balance is disrupted. As a result, a woman’s estrogen levels may become unstable, resulting in emotional instability and a lack of ability to control their behavior.

Symptoms include flying into bouts of rage, succumbing to periods of depression, and losing the appetite.

How to Treat Low Testosterone Naturally?

Performing exercise to boost low testosterone naturally

You should treat your high and low testosterone with the help of your doctor, as they will be able to provide a suitable treatment for you.

Some forms of treatment, like testosterone replacement therapy, may not even be available to you without a prescription.

That’s especially true for high testosterone. There are virtually no other ways to treat it besides medication.

However, there are a few things you can do yourself if you suffer from low testosterone:

  • Regular exercise: Weightlifting and HIIT exercises seem to be especially beneficial for low testosterone.
  • Minimize stress: Cortisol, also known as the human stress hormone, reduces testosterone levels.
  • Proper diet: Try eating more foods that contain protein and healthy fats, such as eggs, liver, and oily fish. Also, include more lentils, beans, and fruits in your diet.
  • Testosterone boosters: Testosterone boosters for women either contain testosterone or other substances that stimulate testosterone production, such as zinc and vitamin D.

FAQs

How Many Milligrams of Testosterone Should a Woman Take?

To prevent side effects, a woman should opt for around 0.5–2 mg of testosterone a day

How Long Does It Take for Testosterone to Work in Females?

It can sometimes take a few months for the full effects of testosterone to work in females; a 3-6 month trial is often recommended [9].

Do Squats Increase Testosterone Levels Long Term?

Yes, performing squats can increase testosterone levels long term. A study showed that post-exercise levels of testosterone were significantly increased following six sets of 10 squats [10].

Testosterone levels naturally start to decline as women age, and it’s vital to bring them back to normal because low testosterone has been linked to increased disease risk, depression, obesity, and other health issues.

For women with symptoms of low testosterone, T-boosters can do an excellent job for their energy levels and well-being. Ingredients of these supplements can differ, which is why doing your research and picking a trusted brand is key.

And if you need some help with choosing the right product, we have tested and reviewed some of the best T-boosters for women.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26358173/.
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6329173/ 
  3. https://livhealth.com/testosterone-in-women-and-men/
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322663
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321292
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16888459/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12671199/
  8. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322508
  9. https://www.womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/factsheets/testosterone-for-women/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7739287/
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