Helen Seymour is in Peri-Menopause, or at least she thinks she is. In her weekly column, we follow her on her journey towards the Menopause, learning as she does all about the big M.
“… Don’t worry, you haven’t done any harm.”
“… You’re sure?”
“… Positive. Just go back to taking it once every three days.”
That’s me on the phone to the nurse in Professor Studd’s office. When I started my (Body Identical) HRT, I accidentally took Testosterone every day for a week, when I was only meant to take it once every three days. The instructions were very clear, but sometimes my brain gets Jiggy. I blame the menopause. I blame everything on the menopause these days. That’s one of the very few benefits. Anything you mess up, just blame it on the menopause.
Anyway, I took the Testosterone EVERY DAY for a week. By accident. And here’s what happened. I turned into a sex maniac. I know you’re probably waiting for a punchline here, but actually, that’s the truth. I’ve always had a good sex drive, but this took it to a different level. To the point that it was interrupting my day. And that’s about as much as I’m prepared to say on a public forum. Or anywhere actually. So don’t any of you sidle up to me in the supermarket with a coy smile. Because you will regret it. I’m on hormones, and I am not to be trifled with. By the way, sidebar. One of the other (very few) benefits of menopause is that you get to a point where you take no s**t. You are empowered as a woman, and boy does it feel GOOD. Sometimes I really think I could run for office. And I don’t mean the shoe shop.
Related: Loss of confidence during menopause made me a different person
Anyway, back to testosterone. Testosterone is one of the sex hormones that women produce. Many people think of it as the “male” hormone, which is correct, but women need testosterone too. In fact, women produce three times as much testosterone than oestrogen before the menopause. However, your levels peak in your twenties and decline slowly thereafter. By menopause, your levels are at half of the peak they were. Testosterone is made in your ovaries and also in your adrenal glands. When women’s levels of testosterone decrease they find they desire sex less often, and when they do have sex, it is not as pleasurable as it used to be, even though they still desire their partner. There is also some evidence that having lower testosterone levels can affect your mood and increase your risk of being depressed.
Testosterone plays an important role in sexual arousal, sexual response, libido, bone strength, cardiovascular health, cognitive performance, energy levels and general well-being in women. Many women find that taking testosterone improves their stamina and energy levels, both physically and mentally. It can also provide benefits to the skin and the hair.
Related:Alcohol now effects my weight, my sleep and makes me look my age
Read the instructions
In HRT, testosterone is given either as a cream or as a gel, which you rub onto your skin so it goes directly into your bloodstream. It can be rubbed on the upper or lower arm, or on the lower abdomen or outer thigh. You should wash your hands thoroughly after use. It is sometimes also given as an implant.
There are usually no side effects as it is given to replace the testosterone you are otherwise lacking. Very occasionally women notice increased hair growth in the area in which they have rubbed the gel or cream, but this can be avoided by changing the area of skin on which you rub it. As the dose is so low,
Testosterone does not increase your risk of developing facial hair, voice deepening or skin changes. It is, however, important to have regular blood tests to monitor your levels and reduce the risk of any side effects occurring.
And that’s really all you need to know. Other than, obviously, don’t take any kind of HRT without proper professional consultation, review all your HRT options before making a decision, and if testosterone is prescribed as part of your HRT programme, read the instructions carefully. More carefully than I did anyway …