Testosterone - not just for the men!

Hormones

Testosterone is often associated with men and although testosterone is a male hormone, it also plays a number of important roles in women too!


Emily Condon
BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

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What is testosterone?

Testosterone is a male sex hormone, involved in many different processes in the body. Hormones are chemical messengers that send signals from the brain to different glands and organs to keep the body functioning correctly. Because testosterone is referred to as a ‘male sex hormone’, many believe that only men have testosterone, but this is not true! Testosterone plays many important roles in women as well.

In men and women, testosterone is produced in different areas of the body - in the testicles of men and the ovaries of women, with small quantities also produced by both sexes in the adrenal glands. In males before birth, testosterone aids in the development of male sex organs and the development of secondary sex characteristics at puberty, such as the growth of facial and body hair, voice deepening and increased penis and testes size. Women produce far less testosterone compared to men.

What is the role of testosterone in women?

In both men and women, testosterone aids the production of new blood cells, helps to maintain strong bones and develop lean muscle, enhances libido and contributes to an overall sense of wellbeing. Testosterone in women is critical because it's converted into oestrogen, the primary female sex hormone.

Too little or too much testosterone can affect a woman’s overall health. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in women that affects the ovaries - resulting in the development of cysts on the ovaries which can become enlarged. PCOS is a common condition and affects around 7 in every 100 women in the UK. Investigations of PCOS focus initially on medical history, the incidence of irregular periods (or none at all) and the existence of high levels of male hormones in the body.

Although the exact cause of PCOS is not known, it is thought that abnormal male hormone levels in women prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg. Many women with PCOS have raised testosterone levels. High levels of testosterone in the body can cause excess body hair - specifically facial hair, acne, balding around the hairline, deepening of the voice, irregular periods, low mood and libido. Low levels of testosterone in the body can lead to fatigue, weight gain, low mood and libido, osteoporosis and hair loss.

Our Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Check is for any women who are experiencing symptoms of PCOS and want to investigate further. An imbalance in testosterone levels can also indicate other underlying conditions such as diabetes or a thyroid disorder

How can I check my testosterone levels?

If you are experiencing any symptoms of low or high testosterone, then a simple blood test could indicate whether your testosterone levels are to blame. As well as our Testosterone blood test, our Hormone Check Plus Male is an excellent profile measuring total and free testosterone (calculated), oestradiol and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels in the blood. Despite having 'male' in its name, do not be fooled - this test can also be completed by women! 

Take action and find out if testosterone is to blame for your niggling symptoms, order your blood test today to take control of your health!


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