Mythbusting Menstruation: Part 3

Testosterone? In women? What?

Okay, so I know when you hear testosterone you picture Rambo, but it’s actually really important for women too. While women have about 15 times less testosterone than men, the tiny amount we do have contributes to a healthy libido, muscle mass and bone strength, energy, mood, clear thinking and decision-making. It is a sex hormone, meaning it’s produced in the gonads – in men, that’s the testes, while in women it’s produced in the ovaries. Getting enough quality sleep is important for hormone production as the endocrine system is particularly active at night. Adequate protein and plenty of good fats are also important, and zinc and vitamin D are two nutrients particularly linked to testosterone levels.

As we’ve said before, it’s less about how much testosterone a woman might have in total, and more about how much she has compared to other hormones, in particular how much oestrogen she has. After menopause, when oestrogen levels drop, a woman’s testosterone levels get comparatively higher. This is likely responsible for your granny’s whiskers and your mum’s moustache (which you should never, ever mention). In younger women suffering polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), excess testosterone can cause irregular menstrual cycles, facial and body hair growth, acne, mood changes and weight gain. On the other hand, not enough testosterone can cause lack of libido, muscle loss, low energy and mood changes. The best way to get hormone levels checked is by talking to your natural health provider about salivary testing. They can take a sample of your saliva and send it for analysis. General practitioners can also refer you for blood tests; however for a complete hormone picture this is less accurate.

So, what’s a guy to do with all this new info on his lady’s testosterone? Firstly, as always, be aware. If she is ticking boxes for too much or too little, encourage her to talk to her naturopath (there are a number of herbal remedies to help create perfect hormonal balance). Help her to look after her sleep and diet. Eat some oysters in the sunshine for that zinc and vitamin D! Yes, that may be the reasoning behind oyster’s reputation as an aphrodisiac… they have really high levels of zinc, which is needed for testosterone production (as well as a multitude of other things like mood regulation and immune function). Don’t forget flowers! Actually a bunch of flowers won’t balance her hormones per say but may indeed bring out the warmth that you are looking for.

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