When someone mentions testosterone and anti-aging hormones, you probably instantly think they’re referring to a man. However, testosterone also exists in the female body, where it can play a major part in a woman’s anti-aging regimen. And, women, ignore your fear that an increase in testosterone will make you look like a male bodybuilder—that’s a myth. Testosterone is actually an anti-aging hormone you most definitely want to factor into your efforts to look and feel younger.
Testosterone is an anti-aging hormone that plays a variety of roles in the female body. For both genders, the main role of testosterone is to assist in the process of erythropoiesis—the creation of healthy red blood cells. But for women, the anti-aging hormone also plays an important secondary role; estrogen is created from testosterone. It’s hard to practice good anti-aging habits if you’re lacking one of the basic components of the female body; estrogen is an essential anti-aging hormone for women that influences everything from managing mood and menopause, to maintaining heart health, bone growth, and cholesterol.
For women, testosterone is primarily produced by the ovaries, though the anti-aging hormone can also be made by skin tissue and body fat as a reaction to two other hormones, DHEA and DHEAS. A healthy young woman generates about 300 micrograms of testosterone in her body each day, about one-tenth of the amount created in the body of an average male. While most testosterone in the body attaches to a protein called SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin), between one and three percent of the anti-aging hormone in the body remains unattached, and is called “free testosterone.”
In women, testosterone is a vital anti-aging hormone because it’s important for proper mineralization of the bones, keeping them strong and dense—as we all know, proper bone health is vital to aging well. If you’re one of the many women who take birth control pills well into their adult years, the anti-aging hormone is especially important because studies have shown that the contraceptive can decrease bone density by lowering the rate of absorption of serum testosterone.
Testosterone in women is also vital for sexual health and activity—it increases libido, amplifies and quickens arousal, and increases satisfaction. When women are low in this essential anti-aging hormone, their libido significantly decreases. (If you’re curious about how sex can help your anti-aging efforts, click here to see how a healthy sex life can help you uncover the fountain of youth.)
In both men and women, the essential anti-aging hormone plays a part in mental health, helping to keep up one’s energy and create a feeling of overall well-being; having a low amount, on the other hand, means low energy, and with that can come feelings of depression. The right amount of this anti-aging hormone can also help to maintain proper insulin resistance, necessary for aging well; a low resistance to insulin can cause an increase in fat levels and blood sugar, leading to diabetes.
Despite all of these benefits, testosterone has potential downsides, too. Too much of the anti-aging hormone (more than 1,200 ng/dL) can lead to a variety of problems, including heightened aggression, a greater risk of heart disease, and ovarian cancer. Also, despite the belief that testosterone assists with muscle growth, it actually plays no part in it. However, strength training over a period greater than six months has been shown to cause an increase in free testosterone. For these reasons, talk to your doctor before attempting to adjust your anti-aging hormone levels yourself.
Chee, R., “Breaking The Myth – Increasing Testosterone In Females = Muscle Accretion And Strength Gains,” Bodybuilding.com, October 15, 2009; http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/myth-of-women-lifting-heavy2.htm.
McCrea, M., “The Most Surprising Facts About Testosterone,” Healthline web site; http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/most-surprising-testosterone-facts#1, last accessed October 28, 2013.
“Testosterone: Not So Manly After All?” Mark’s Daily Apple web site, June 29, 2010; http://www.marksdailyapple.com/testosterone-women/#axzz2f4WpxdfS.
“What is Free Testosterone?” InBalance Health web site, May 17, 2013; http://inbalancehealth.net/what-is-free-testosterone/.