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Testosterone and Androgen

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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 adrenal gland.

These hormones have the following effects:

1. General effect - increase energy, sex drive (libido), aggression, appetite, muscle mass

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 a role.

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 acceptable level.

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 voice.

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.

Testosterone and Androgen

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