What is Testosterone and how does it affect women

Dr. Rocio Salas-Whalen

Next out of the sex hormones is Testosterone. You may wonder why we’re talking about testosterone as it’s most commonly associated with men but lo and behold, women have testosterone too and it’s important to make sure we stay on top of our testosterone levels. Before we dive into how testosterone affects women, let’s have a quick look at what it does in men as that helps explain why the right level of testosterone in women is so important.

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is the main sex hormone found in men as opposed to estrogen and progesterone in women. Thanks to this particular hormone men get the very specific features that make them men and physically different from women. This includes facial and body hair as well as increased muscle and bone mass. It is also very important for sex drive. In a man, most of the testosterone is made in the testicles with a small portion coming from the adrenal glands.

Women and testosterone

So did you know that we women also make testosterone? Yes, we do! But in much smaller amounts than our counterparts. We make about 1/10th to 1/20th of the amount of testosterone than men do. So, much less and in turn, we produce more of the main female sex hormone estrogen. The amount of testosterone that we do make is produced in our ovaries and adrenal glands.

Why is Testosterone important in boys and men?

Testosterone helps bring on the physical changes that turn a boy into a man.  These changes can include growth of the penis, growth of facial hair, deepening of the voice, increased height, just to name a few, but you get the idea right?

Also, this hormone is super important for fertility, as men need this hormone for sperm production and in turn to have babies.

Women testosterone, why do we need it?

Well, combined with estrogen, testosterone helps with growth, bone health, fertility and you guessed it, SEX DRIVE. Good thing we’re making some, right?

As with all our wonderful and powerful bodily hormones, the key is balance.  When we make too little or too much it can affect our health. In men, when they don’t have enough they may experience fatigue, muscle loss, hair loss and infertility. But enough of men! What are the effects of too low or too high testosterone in women?

Effects of low testosterone in women

Low levels of testosterone (which rarely occurs btw) can lead to:

Effects of high testosterone in women

High levels of testosterone (which are much more common) can lead to:

Not great things for any woman! If you have any of the above symptoms please contact your doctor so they can check the testosterone level in your blood. In many occasions, high levels of testosterone in women can be treated.


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Dr. Rocio Salas-Whalen

Dr. Rocio Salas-Whalen

This post is written by Dr Rocio Salas-Whalen, CMO at hormona and double board-certified physician in Endocrinology and Obesity Medicine. Currently, Dr Salas-Whalen practices in her own private office in New York City. Dr Salas-Whalen is a strong woman’s health advocate through all periods of a woman’s life. She has a strong interest in improving the quality of life of women going through some hormonal dysfunctions. Including PCOS, infertility, thyroid disease, obesity and menopause to name a few