Testosterone and Androgen
While testosterone is generally considered to be a male hormone, it is also
produced in small amounts by the ovary. Other hormones called androgens have
testosterone like effects and are also produced by both the ovary and the
These hormones have the following effects:
1. General effect - increase energy, sex drive (libido), aggression, appetite,
2. Specific effect - male type hair growth, oily skin and acne, enlargement
of the clitoris, changes in the voice, coarsening of the skin
After menopause, there are several situations where androgens might play
First, for those women whose ovaries have been surgically removed and who
do not "feel right" on estrogen replacement therapy alone. They may have
a lack of energy, lack of sexual interest, or just "not being right".
The addition of very small amounts of testosterone to their therapy, comparable
to those women with ovaries, can often make them feel much better.
It is essential to keep the amount small enough so that the male-directed
side effects -- weight gain, excessive hair, acne -- are kept within an
Second, if the ovaries remain in place after menopause, the body may respond
with a high level of FSH, which is trying to force the ovary to produce estrogen.
This may make the ovary produce excessive androgen which can lead to benign
tumors forming in the ovary. This probably explains why some elderly women
develop increased facial hair, a coarsening of features, and a deeper gravelly
The administration of estrogen may then cause the level of FSH to be reduced
blocking the production of androgens and reverse this effect.
Androgen therapy during menopause carries with it some risks of changes which
are dose regulated. These are changes in the blood cholesterol patterns and
levels which may increase the risk of heart disease. However when given in
low dosages there are no adverse effects on lipids and lipo proteins.