Why Testosterone Is So Important for Women
Continuing the Ask A Provider series, Laurie Miller talks to Elizabeth Snedeker (Viking’s Clinical Supervisor) about why Testosterone is absolutely critical for women and why the lack of it as we age is a serious issue!
Elizabeth Snedeker, the clinical director of Viking, discusses the importance of testosterone for women’s health. She explains that while testosterone is often associated with men, women also have a healthy amount of it in their bodies. Testosterone plays a vital role in various aspects of health, including mental wellbeing, metabolism, muscle retention, bone density, and sexual function. Elizabeth emphasizes that testosterone supplementation can benefit women as they age, helping to maintain vitality and prevent age-related health issues. Viking offers different methods of testosterone administration, including injectable therapy, transdermal cream therapy, and troches, allowing for individualized care.
Elizabeth further highlights the patient-centered approach at Viking, with close monitoring and dosage adjustments based on individual needs and preferences. Elizabeth dispels misconceptions about testosterone, such as its association with aggression, and addresses potential adverse effects, emphasizing the importance of regular check-ups and monitoring for hormone-dependent cancers. She concludes with information on how interested individuals can get started with Viking, including filling out intake forms and ordering labs. The goal is to provide personalized care and help women restore their vitality and overall wellbeing through testosterone supplementation.
[00:00:00.000] – Elizabeth Snedeker
Where’s testosterone in all of this? Well, it’s there. It’s very important. It has a lot of important vital functions for us. It also drops as we age.
[00:00:17.960] – Laurie Miller
Hey, it’s Laurie. I’m here again with Elizabeth Snedeker, the clinical director of Viking. We’re continuing these segments called Ask a Provider, where we’re taking your top questions and answering them. We’re going to cover each of the hormones that are mostly involved in women’s care. Those are primarily testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen. Today we’re going to talk specifically about testosterone, its role in the body, and its benefits for women. I, for one, never realized that women have as much testosterone naturally as we do. And I certainly did not understand the myriad of ways that it works in the body and all of the benefits for us. So can you tell us a little bit about that?
[00:01:11.370] – Elizabeth Snedeker
Absolutely. So that’s one of the big questions that I get from women whenever I tell them that testosterone is in our toolbox for what we’re going to supplement them with. Women just don’t think of testosterone whenever they think of their hormonal makeup. We go through these… Throughout our lives, starting sometime in our typically teenage years, we start with these waves of what we know are estrogen and progesterone. We know when we get pregnant, estrogen and progesterone plays a big part in that. Then whenever we go through perimenopause and menopause, we know that those levels drop. But where’s testosterone in all of this? Well, it’s there. It’s very important. It has a lot of important vital functions for us. It also drops as we age. And so it is one of the key hormones that we will supplement you with typically whenever we are treating you for the gamut of things that we help you with at Viking. So testosterone, it is, quote-unquote, the male androgen is how women think of it, but we have a very healthy amount of it in our body. All estrogen comes from testosterone and so your body in making your estrogen has to make a good amount of testosterone.
[00:02:35.130] – Elizabeth Snedeker
Now it is less so than men. Men’s ratios are very different from what women have. But I wanted to talk a lot about today just testosterone, the character of that hormone and the benefit that you can get as a woman from supplementing that into your aging years, I’ll say. Starting around typically 35 and up. So testosterone is an androgen hormone. It works throughout your body, and I’m going to go through each body system. In your brain, testosterone is going to help with motivation, confidence. The generalized overall sense of wellbeing. So it can help a lot with your mental health with anxious feeling, the depressed mood, irritability. And one thing I really wanted to touch on is that people associate testosterone with aggression and it really is a misnomer for testosterone. Testosterone is really about the overall generalized sense of wellbeing. So in your brain, it has a lot to do with that, has a lot to do with your libido and your brain function and things like that. So it gives you your drive, your confidence, your motivation. Throughout your body, it’s going to help you with macro metabolism. So it’s going to make you more efficient at metabolizing your macros: carbs, fats, protein.
[00:03:59.740] – Elizabeth Snedeker
And so the protein aspect, it’s going to help you to retain and use that protein to retain muscle mass, to retain your bone density. And so for women, these are really key important issues that we deal with as we age. We lose our muscle mass, our bones become less dense. And so we’re more prone to pathologic fractures, becoming cathartic or whenever you see women and men that when they’re hunched over because they’ve lost their vertebral height, those bones in your back, you want those to stay healthy and thick. So it helps with bone density, muscle retention. The muscle retention is a big one there because as we age, we start to become less, we become weaker as we age. And as we become weaker, we lose our flexibility, we lose our mobility because we really stop using our body in those ways. It makes us more prone to falls and thereby if we have brittle bones with falls, we’re going to have fractures, hip fractures, the cyphosis, what we call compression fractures of our spine. So testosterone really helps with your body using what you give it to retain that muscle mass to keep your strength up as we age.
[00:05:21.570] – Elizabeth Snedeker
Also with sexual function in your gonadal areas, it’s going to help with sexual function, libido, vaginal dryness, and just keeping that area of your life alive. So testosterone is just a wonderful hormone to benefit conservatively. We don’t go, like I said, super physiologic. We restore levels for what you would be 10 or 20 years younger than you are presently. With these benefits, there are also adverse effects that can come from testosterone use in women. As we get you started, we monitor you extremely closely to make sure that a lot of these are not happening. I’ve stressed our providers. We start low and we go slow so that we build that up because every woman is going to have different sensitivities to testosterone. One of the adverse effects we watch for is voice deepening. Your family may say you sound like you have a cold or something like that. We know we probably need to back off a little bit and it is reversible. Clitoral enlargement is another one. If it’s uncomfortable for you, then we know we need to back off a little bit. Also, if you’re shaving all the time and you feel like that is just a nuisance, then we back off of testosterone.
[00:06:36.380] – Elizabeth Snedeker
But honestly, the only main big risk of testosterone is that, especially at the very conservative levels that we use it, is that if you develop some type of hormone dependent cancer, like I said, all estrogen are coming from testosterone, if you are 40 or above, we always make sure that your mammograms are up to date every year. And then also you are getting a pelvic exam to make sure they’re feeling for any masses in your pelvis. You always go to your doctor if you have any dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Those are the risks. We don’t want to accelerate any hormone-dependent cancers should you develop them while you’re on HRT. But HRT is not going to cause you to get any hormone-dependent cancer. So that is a misnomer I always like to address. If you have some type of congenital clotting disease, we typically avoid HRT in those people just because their blood clotting risk can increase with HRT. But otherwise, testosterone is a wonderful tool that we can use to help restore women’s vitality in a lot of different areas in their life as we age preventively to keep us healthy as we age and to keep us in a better mental frame as well.
[00:08:00.800] – Laurie Miller
Can you touch on the method that we are using that?
[00:08:07.500] – Elizabeth Snedeker
Sure. So at Viking, we have several different types of testosterone that you can use. We do once a week injectable therapy for women with an insulin needle in your subcutaneous tissue. So it’s very easy to do. It’s very convenient. It’s once a week. And so that dose is going to last you that week. You can do a cream therapy. So if you’re not into needles, you can do a transdermal cream therapy. And that’s a daily therapy where you apply the cream typically to the vulovaginal areas where I use it because it helps a lot. It’s a very absorbed mucus membrane there, helps a lot with sexual function and libido. So the cream is a good choice. And then also we have a troche that you can dissolve under your tongue or in your cheek. Not a lot of women use that option, but we do have it if the cream is very cumbersome and that you’re not into injection. We have three different areas that you can use testosterone. I typically want to keep you somewhere in my range is like 80 to 250 on labs for testosterone. It really depends on your age and I don’t chase numbers.
[00:09:14.390] – Elizabeth Snedeker
If you’re within a safe range and you’re feeling great, we don’t push you until we are pushing the envelope. We keep you where you’re safe, where you’re feeling great, and we touch base with you as often as we need to to keep you in that spot.
[00:09:33.970] – Laurie Miller
And again, I love that there’s so much accessibility and so much fine-tuning because it is super individual, and I love that that’s really a focus. It’s not just here’s the protocol, slap it on you and call us in three months when you’re ready for a refill. This is how are you feeling in this area? This area? This area? This area? Well, let’s dial this hormone in and let’s pull back a little bit on that one and then let’s see how you feel with that. So I love the patient-centered care that you get at Viking through this process.
[00:10:06.690] – Elizabeth Snedeker
And I will say it’s also a benefit over the pellet therapy, which is very popular for women. Because once you get that pellet, first of all, you have to get an incision insertion every three months. Once it’s in, it’s in. And a lot of women that come to Viking are coming from pellet therapy because they say, I feel really good for the first month and a half. And for the last month and a half, I’m riding this down roller coaster and I can’t do anything about it until I have another insertion and I have to deal with this incision and healing. And so with Viking, with the injections, cream or troches, you’re getting very individualized care for how much is too much and we can adjust the dosage at any time.
[00:10:51.870] – Laurie Miller
That’s awesome. All right, so if they’re interested, then what is the process to get going?
[00:10:58.630] – Elizabeth Snedeker
You can go to vikingalternative. Com. You hover over new patient, you fill out the new patient intake, and you can order your labs directly from Viking. We do offer discounts through LabCorp and Quest for those labs. Once your paperwork is in, you’ve turned in your driver’s license, you’ve signed your authorization form, we can get you a consultation scheduled when all your paperwork is done. Then we’ll just go over your case, your past medical history, and then we will get you started.
[00:11:27.500] – Laurie Miller
Then you get started, get your medicines in the mail, and then you get dialed in and you start feeling better. In the meantime, if you’re on the fence or you have more questions, feel free to contact us. We’d love to answer any questions that you have, and you’re welcome to comment below and we’ll answer questions that way or just give us a call. Have a great day. Bye.