Five more Myths about Testosterone and Women
We’ve already posted our Top 5 Myths about testosterone use in women, but, believe it or not, there is even more misinformation out there! Let’s dispel a few more untruths about testosterone replacement therapy for women.
Myth #1: Testosterone has adverse effects on the heart. We aren’t sure where this one came from. Perhaps because men have more testosterone than women and men are at greater risk of heart disease than women, someone drew a correlation where none exists. In reality, the exact opposite is true. There is substantial evidence that testosterone is cardiac protective. It has a positive effect on lean body mass, blood sugar metabolism, cardiac muscle, and lipid profiles in both men and women. It is even used to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease. For women with congestive heart failure, testosterone has been shown to improve muscle strength, insulin resistance, and functional capacity. You heard it here: healthy levels of testosterone are good for your heart!
Myth #2: Testosterone causes liver damage. Perhaps this myth arose after concerns of liver and kidney damage in men who took anabolic steroids and oral synthetic androgens. Testosterone patches and implants, unlike pellet hormone replacement therapy, pellets bypass the liver and have no adverse effects on the organ itself, liver enzymes, or clotting factors. We might also add that non-oral testosterone does not increase the risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis the way oral estrogens, androgens and synthetic progestins do.
Myth #3: Testosterone causes aggression. This completely unfounded myth couldn’t be more wrong. Although anabolic steroid use has been shown to increase aggression, this is not the case for testosterone therapy. Even large doses of subcutaneous (under the skin) testosterone therapy do not increase aggression. In fact, studies show that in 90% of women treated for symptoms of androgen deficiency, instances of anxiety, irritability and aggression all decreased with therapy. We’ve known this for a long time: androgen therapy has been used to treat PMS for more than 60 years.
Myth #4: Testosterone may increase the risk of breast cancer. This myth can be a little complicated to sort out because some past studies have noted an association between elevated androgen levels and breast cancer. However, methodological limitations and inconsistencies in these studies call them into question, as well as the fact that they do not account for elevated estradiol levels (excess testosterone can be converted by the body into estradiol, an estrogen associated with breast cancer). Clinical trials have confirmed that a healthy balance of testosterone and estradiol is breast protective. Testosterone therapy does not increase the risk of breast cancer and may actually lower it in women on estrogen therapy.
Myth #5: The safety of testosterone use in women has not been established. We’ve been accumulating data on testosterone use in women since 1938, when testosterone implants were first used in female patients. Long-term data confirms the safety, efficacy and tolerability of doses of up to 225 mg in women for up to 40 years of therapy. Additionally, data on higher doses of testosterone used in transgender “female to male” patients shows no increase in mortality or major health problems, including breast cancer or vascular disease. Testosterone is safe for women. Seven decades of data proves it.
For more myths about testosterone therapy and women, read our Top 5 Myths on Testosterone Use in Women.
Glaser et al. Testosterone therapy in women: Myths and misconceptions. Maturitas (2013) 74:231-234