What About Testosterone and My Sex Life?
Jul 30, 2021
What about Testosterone and my sex life?
There are studies that support the use of testosterone and have found improvements in sexual activity, satisfaction and pleasure when compared to women not using testosterone. Is the answer testosterone and testosterone alone?
Testosterone is a sex hormone found in both males and females. Testosterone is an androgen, which is one of our sex steroids. As women, we have lower circulating levels (about a tenth than that of men during our reproductive years), but it is still present and does play an important role in sexual function.As women age there is a natural decline in our testosterone levels. But what does testosterone do?
In women, testosterone is primarily produced from our adrenal glands and ovaries, but our fat cells can also produce this androgen.
Our body produces different types of testosterones, all of which are androgens.
- dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS),
- dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
However, 80% of that testosterone is bound to Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). Meaning that it is there, but not able to activate anything. Of the remaining 20%, 19% is bound to our albumin (part of our blood), leaving only 1% of available testosterone. Remember as we age there is a decline in the testosterone we produce and thus our 1% available gets even lower. Does this decline affect our sexual desire?
To start, there is more than just one factor that affects a woman's sexual desire. Of course, our hormones play a role but so does our life situation, our mood, body image and relationship status (to name a few). But, back to the questions...Does testosterone increase sexual desire in women? What is interesting about that question is that for many women desire is not the motivating factor for engaging in sex. Desire tends to be a side effect of becoming aroused. Research has shown that although there are other factors that can and will affect women’s desire or arousal, testosterone does appear to be the primary sex steroid influencing these emotions.
Sexual desire in women does involves more than just one hormone. Estrogen and testosterone work together to help release one of our neurotransmitters, dopamine. When released, dopamine enhances desire and is one of the reasons we continue to participate. So yes, testosterone is important to our sexual drive and desire, but it is not testosterone alone. Keep in mind that as we age desire may decline but satisfaction may not. Many things can influence our desire. Our life situations play a role in our sexual activity such as our body image, partner relationships, and our emotional well-being. Desires is directly affected by our life and that also fluctuates on a day-to-day basis. Just like our testosterone.
Clayton, A. (2010). The pathology of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 7-11.
Davison, S. & Davis, S. (2011). Androgenic hormones and again- The link with female sexual function. Hormones and Behavior, 745-753.
Krapf, J. & Simon, J. (2009). The role of testosterone in the management of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in postmenopausal women. Maturitas, 213-219.
Written by Lisa Wessell, NP
Lisa Wessell is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and Bachelors in Exercise Science. She has practiced as a registered nurse for the past 18 years with most of her experience as a Labor and Delivery nurse. Lisa graduated from the University of Colorado Denver with her Masters of Nursing in Women’s Health, where she will continue to focus on the health care needs of women by promoting and maintain wellness.
Originally from Cleveland Ohio, Lisa moved to Colorado in 1999 with her husband Matthew. Lisa and Matthew have three children that keep them busy running from soccer, softball, basketball and back again. In her free time, Lisa enjoys running, skiing and traveling. To schedule an appointment with Lisa, visit www.myawh.com.