What can affect a woman's testosterone levels?

Jan L. Shifren, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
Testosterone production peaks in a woman's 20s and gradually declines after that. Although menopause per se does not cause low testosterone levels, by menopause, it registers at just about half of what it was at its peak due to aging. The hormone doesn't disappear completely, however. The ovaries manufacture it throughout life, even though they stop producing estrogen at menopause. But if a woman's ovaries are removed (which sometimes occurs in combination with a hysterectomy), her testosterone levels drop, although the adrenal glands continue to make hormones similar to testosterone. The same decline can occur after certain forms of chemotherapy and with certain medications.

Taking oral estrogen can also diminish a woman's active or “free” testosterone levels, because her body responds to the increased amount of estrogen by boosting its production of a certain protein known as sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). This protein binds to testosterone, so the testosterone then is not free to be used by other cells in the body.

Continue Learning about Endocrine System

Endocrine System

Your endocrine system works with your nervous system to control important bodily functions. The endocrine systems responsibilities include regulating growth, sexual development and function, metabolism and mood. The endocrine syst...

em also helps give your body the energy it needs to function properly. Endocrine glands secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are considered chemical messengers, coordinating your body by transferring information from one set of cells to another. Your endocrine system health can be affected by hormone imbalances resulting from impaired glands. A hormone imbalance can cause problems with bodily growth, sexual development, metabolism and other bodily functions. Endocrine system diseases or conditions include diabetes, growth disorders and osteoporosis.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.