Hormones are widely known to be the essential component in women involved in various activities. However, some women require therapies that help normalize hormones due to certain health conditions. This article explains five things about female testosterone replacement so that you can be confident before starting a treatment.
Revealing the Real Story With Female Testosterone Replacement Therapy
Female testosterone replacement therapy (female TRT) involves administering the testosterone hormone into the female body. This treatment aims to reach the optimization of hormones, which progressively declines over time. Many women are concerned about such treatment’s safety and side effects with that in mind. Let’s debunk five claims about female TRT, one at a time.
Fact: Female TRT Can Cause Acne
Suppose you have undergone a TRT session and started noticing some changes on your skin recently, such as the presence of acne. In that case, that might be the side effect of testosterone. Acne is among the most commonly reported side effects of treatment with testosterone. According to research, elevated androgen levels among individuals receiving testosterone therapy are associated with a higher incidence of acne.
Although testosterone therapy is known to increase the development of acne, severe acne only occurs on rare occasions. Women can also avoid acne by slowly increasing the testosterone dose and consuming a low-inflammatory diet. That said, severe acne is a contraindication of TRT, which means women suffering from acne at a severe level should not request this treatment.
Fact: Female TRT Can Increase Facial Hair
Another side effect of female testosterone replacement therapy is the presence of abnormal facial hair. Increased facial hair can be expected since it is dose- and duration-independent. According to research, testosterone therapy, even in sufficient quantities or for a reasonable duration, can cause hirsutism, a condition characterized by hair growth on the face, neck, chest, and some other parts.
Nevertheless, this condition is mild and reversible. Drugs like spironolactone may help. Although not currently approved for dermatologic conditions, it has been accepted as a treatment for both acne and hirsutism due to its antiandrogenic properties. Another way to eliminate facial hair is to undergo laser hair removal. This FDA-approved approach safely stops hair growth by using a laser light beam to the hair follicles.
Please keep in mind that any unwanted side effect of female TRT is reversible by lowering the dose. However, since the beneficial effects of this therapy depend on dosing, which means the benefits are only achieved at a specific dose, many women choose to treat the side effects simultaneously with the treatment rather than decrease the dose.
Myth: Female TRT Can Cause Masculinization
While it is widely thought that high testosterone in men is associated with masculinity, it does not apply to women who receive female TRT. Research shows that testosterone does not cause masculinization unless the patient is given extremely high doses over an extended period of time. Moreover, women receiving TRT do not develop any vocal or behavioral changes related to masculinity, such as voice deepening or aggression.
Instead, female TRT can improve the psychological well-being of women who suffer from depression. A study of 34 premenopausal women with low libido found that 10 mg of testosterone cream daily significantly improves depressed mood and overall health. Women can request transdermal hormone delivery, which provides predictable doses while maintaining effective absorbability, to ensure no safety concern regarding high dose incidence.
Myth: Female TRT Can Increase Risk for Heart or Liver Disease
Female TRT and Heart Disease
Although there is a link between testosterone and heart disease, the connection is not yet entirely determined due to insufficient evidence. In fact, it is the high proportion of testosterone to estrogen ratio in women that is associated with heart disease. According to an analysis of over 2,800 women after menopause, such a disproportion might increase cardiovascular disease risk. Research also found that this ratio could be the best risk indicator.
However, female testosterone replacement therapy aims to optimize hormones, which means maintaining a balance between testosterone and estrogen, as seen in healthy women. For this reason, heart disease incidence due to TRT is not possible. That said, ensure that your physician regularly checks your hormone levels and ratios before the therapy to eliminate the risk.
Female TRT and Liver Disease
Oral testosterone has been shown to impair the liver due to its hepatic first-pass mechanism. This means the hormone taken orally is processed in the liver before producing its effects. A study including 60 patients has found that 50 mg of methyltestosterone three times daily was associated with abnormal liver functions and liver tumor development.
Nevertheless, oral testosterone is not given anymore in the context of other routes of testosterone, including transdermal delivery, emerging and showing greater safety for the liver. According to a study, transdermal testosterone avoids the hepatic first-pass effect and has not been shown to cause hepatotoxicity.
Myth: Female TRT Can Increase Risk for Breast Cancer
Whether female TRT can cause or increase the risk for breast cancer might be the top worry among ladies when it comes to modifying hormones. Because the aromatase enzyme in the breast stromal tissues can convert testosterone into estrogen, there is a hypothesis that testosterone may directly or indirectly stimulate the development of breast cancer.
However, research has found no significant differences between women receiving testosterone in the form of transdermal patches and those on placebo in mammographic breast density, which is the indicator for breast cancer. Another analysis reported no significant association between breast cancer risk and androgen therapy.
In addition, research has confirmed that testosterone has a beneficial effect on preventing breast cancer by inhibiting the estradiol-induced proliferation of breast tissue. This inhibition of breast tissue can slow down the initiation or development of cancer cells. Therefore, testosterone does not increase but lowers the risk of breast cancer in women.
Now you can be confident to start your first therapy as you know the real story with female testosterone replacement. It’s important to be selective about facts and myths, especially when false conclusions are becoming widely accepted. This wise selection of information allows you to receive evidence-based therapy without any concern.
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