Hormones play a role in the health of your skin, hair, and bones, and they play a role in protecting your muscles as well. Many women notice a change in how they look after 40, with less muscle tone, which can be very frustrating if you’ve been trying to live a healthy life and take care of yourself!
A recent study looked at the effect of hormone replacement on maintaining muscle mass in postmenopausal women. But once again, researchers dropped the ball on women’s health and failed to ask the right questions.
They looked at women on estrogen-only hormone replacement (HRT) or estrogen/progestin HRT. And they found no difference in muscles compared with women, not on HRT.
Here’s the main problem with the study: while estrogen has a lot of important benefits in your body, and so does progesterone, the hormone that is most important for your muscles is testosterone – which they did not look at or replace!
Testosterone is just as important for women’s health as estrogen and progesterone. Here are some reasons why:
It helps keeps your bones strong, so they don’t snap like a twig when you fall down.
It helps prevent stress incontinence (urinary leakage when you cough, sneeze, jump or run) and a future dependent on Depends
It’s a mood stabilizer and helps us avoid crying at every Hallmark commercial
It helps boost motivation and competitive drive (so you have enough “get up and go” to get to the gym and feel like working out!)
It boosts interest in sex (so you actually care about it), which is important in relationships.
It helps with vaginal lubrication, so sex is not painful
It helps with skin tone, to prevent saggy, droopy jowls and chicken wings under your arms
It helps maintain your muscle mass so you can stay strong and vital as you age gracefully…..
Some women are able to make some testosterone naturally after menopause, so not everyone needs testosterone replacement. But if you’re having any of these symptoms it’s important to be tested so you can prevent turning into a frail little old lady with barely enough strength to stand up from your chair!
The “normal” range of testosterone for women is very controversial. Some labs actually say that the normal range goes down to zero! A testosterone level close to zero may not be flagged as abnormal by the lab, but it is certainly not optimal for your health and how you feel!
There are currently no FDA approved testosterone replacement products for women, so many doctors don’t treat low testosterone in women. There is one form of synthetic testosterone available in combination with a synthetic form of estrogen in a pill (called Estratest). Since this is not the natural form of either hormone, the risks and benefits are not the same, and the results are not the same (and therefore I don’t recommend this product).
It’s important to work with a medical provider who is knowledgeable about the options to support your own testosterone production, or the use of bio-identical testosterone products. Testosterone is available as a topical cream or sublingual lozenge (called a troche) from compounding pharmacies and is also available as a pellet that is inserted under your skin in a quick office procedure.
If you aren’t feeling your best and would like to be evaluated to see if a hormone problem such as low testosterone could be a problem for you, please find a Functional Medicine practitioner to help you. If you are in the Carolinas, we are happy to help, and you can reach us for more info at 704-259-4686 or contact us here.
Please don’t suffer from symptoms unnecessarily! Your family, relationships and career won’t flourish when you aren’t the best version of you. Taking care of yourself benefits everyone you care about. And you deserve to LOVE the way you feel!
Yours in health!