Hysterectomy Healing: Should Women Who’ve Had Hysterectomies Take Testosterone?

When a person hears the term “low testosterone,” they might immediately think of a man suffering from low levels of testosterone. However, there is such a thing as testosterone therapy for women, as reported by the International Business Times UK. Testosterone is a hormone that is also produced by females and is helpful for a woman’s overall well-being and sexual desire. In recent times, testosterone therapy has been called a method of miraculously helping some women in their postmenopausal states.

Testosterone is usually produced in large quantities in men, via their testicles. But women’s ovaries can also produce testosterone, to a much smaller degree, but women can have much more testosterone than estrogen in their bodies, which isn’t commonly known. Testosterone can help boost energy and sex drives, and can also decrease as a woman ages. If a woman has a hysterectomy, her levels of testosterone can drop to nearly zero. Women who have had hysterectomies and have tried testosterone as part of their hormone replacement therapy have been noting their experiences for years in forums like Hyster Sisters.

Testosterone was long believed to be linked to male sexual desire, but testosterone levels in women along with sexual desire was not as clear-cut. Testosterone, however, is being pegged as critical for a woman’s mental health and in terms of her ability to maintain bone and muscle mass. Low testosterone in women may cause depression, low energy, irritability, and bring a risk of bone breakage in postmenopausal women.

For doctors, it’s sometimes hard to know what a “normal” testosterone level might be for women. For women younger than 50, a testosterone level of less than 25 ng/dL could be deemed abnormal, whereas women 50 years of age and older could have levels less than 20 ng/dL considered low. Other experts claim normal total testosterone levels for women are between 15 and 70 ng/dL. With such disparity in thought processes, it’s easy to see why getting the proper balance of testosterone might be difficult.

Testosterone therapy for women has increased in interest over the years. Testosterone therapy for women could help women suffering from low libidos and depression, as long as those symptoms aren’t the result of other maladies. Clinical trials have shown that testosterone therapy can be safe and helpful, although experts admit that more long-term study is needed.

Physicians are concerned that testosterone therapy might increase the risk of breast cancer, although there is little evidence that women on testosterone therapy have a bigger risk of breast cancer. As long as women are given the female range of testosterone levels, and not the increased male levels of testosterone therapy, the risk of unwanted side effects such as deeper voices, acne and unsightly hair growth are minimized.

Doctors are urging women to get a diagnosis for reproductive concerns, reports MassLive.com. Women who have concerns about their hormone levels before or after having a hysterectomy should seek treatment because a drop in testosterone or other essential hormones could cause not only a drop in sexual desire but in vaginal dryness that leads to painful sex, which could, in turn, decrease the desire for sex even more.

Testosterone therapy is on the rise, reports the Guardian, with prescriptions increasing over the decades. Women who have gone through menopause and have found their sex drives decreased have found some help with low doses of testosterone. The increase in testosterone usage should be accompanied with warnings that it could increase the risk of heart attacks, claim experts. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, testosterone replacement after a hysterectomy could also help protect a woman’s life.

“Testosterone supplemental therapy for women following hysterectomy not only can improve the quality of their lives in terms of sexual libido, sexual pleasure, and sense of well-being but also can–as does supplementary estrogen–contribute to the prevention of osteoporosis. Most importantly, an increasing body of evidence suggests that testosterone may be cardiovascular protective…testosterone deficiency in women may be costing more in morbidity and mortality than we know at present.”

According to the Endocrine Society, the following warning about women using testosterone should be heeded.

“Testosterone should be reserved for post-menopausal women with sexual dysfunction secondary to hypoactive sexual desire, because there is limited data regarding long-term efficacy and safety. Testosterone levels do not predict response, and should not be routinely measured, but monitoring for signs of androgen excess is important.”

The top photo above shows Cindy Reutzel holding her granddaughter after Reutzel gave birth to her granddaughter in the wake of acting as a surrogate for her own daughter Emily Jordan, who had undergone a radical hysterectomy.

[Featured Image by Sitthixay Ditthavong/AP Images]