Do Women Need Testosterone?

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Sex Hormones Leave a Comment

Testosterone seems to conjure images of bulky muscles, aggression and robust libidos. Many people even mistakenly think that testosterone is a hormone that women don’t have to think about.

But this multifaceted hormone does so much more for your body than help you bulk up. Testosterone builds bones, supports your brain health, increases energy, helps with weight loss and keeps depression away! And it only takes a little bit for us ladies to feel its effects.

Your body naturally produces testosterone and, just like other hormones, it is all about the balance between them all. Testosterone is good for women and is important for our health.

When testosterone is too low we often feel…

  • Fatigued
  • Depressed
  • Disinterested in sex
  • Memory loss
  • Joint pain

On the flip side, high levels of testosterone can cause…

  • Hair loss
  • Acne
  • Oily skin
  • Increased body and facial hair
  • Feelings of aggression

Keeping testosterone at optimal levels is all about supporting your body’s production of the hormone so it can work in tandem with other important sex hormones and neurotransmitters.

Is Too Little Testosterone a Problem for You?

Many women struggle with too little testosterone beginning in their late 30's.

Do you feel tired often?
Do you have difficulty concentrating or brain fog?
Is your libido dwindling or absent?
Do you experience mood swings?
Are you lips thinning?
Is your hair dry or thin?
Do you struggle losing weight?
Do you have a hard time building muscle?
Are you having joint pain?
Do you struggle with depression?

If you are nodding your head yes as  you read through those questions then you have a hormone imbalance and testosterone should be investigated.

Think Your Testosterone Levels May Be Off?

Have Lab Testing Completed.

If you suspect you have a hormone imbalance then best place to start is with testing. Knowing the extent of the imbalance, which hormones are in need of some TLC and what is the cause of your imbalance is necessary in understanding how to treat.

If you’re having blood work completed I recommend talking to your doctor about the following labs:

Total Testosterone

Free Testosterone

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)


In my practice, I recommend Dutch lab testing from Precision Analytics because it provides a more thorough evaluation of testosterone and other sex hormones.

Knowing where your levels are at will help determine the best way to naturally restore your testosterone.

Move Your Body.

Research has shown that exercise has the ability to increase your testosterone, especially strength training or resistance based exercise like pilates, weight lifting, crossfit, and body resistance based exercise.

Aim for 20-30 minutes at 3-5 days per week. You might not start there, but it is a good goal to work towards.


Foods like oysters, herring, beef, lamb, pork, liver, egg yolks, oats, pecans, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, ginger root, mustard, chili powder, peas, carrots, beets, and cabbage.

Many of my patients find that 25 mg of zinc from a supplement is helpful for increasing their testosterone levels, as well as thyroid health. If you are supplementing with zinc, always be sure to balance with copper.


Start your morning with 500-1,000 mg daily for better energy, mood and stamina. Maca can improve both testosterone and estrogen levels and support the adrenal glands. For some women, Maca can be a bit too stimulating. If this is true for you, start with 500 mg and increase over time as your body gets used to this powerful herb.

Maca goes great into smoothies too! Try adding Gaia Herbs Maca to your next smoothie.

 Eat Real Food.

We live in a time when access to processed food is at an all-time high. The worst part is the misleading notion that most of this stuff is even food. Depleted of nutrients and chalk full of inflammatory additives, these “foods” will disrupt your hormones, add stress to the body, and bog down detoxification pathways.

Choosing whole foods and cooking your food for yourself as often as possible is the foundation of all health—hormonal health is no exception.

Aim for 7-9 servings of vegetables daily or at least as often as possible. That may sound like a lot at first, but you’d be surprised how many more vegetables you can eat when you start cutting the hormone-hating foods out of your diet.

Eat protein at every meal.

This will support blood sugar balance, which improves insulin levels and testosterone. Elevated insulin can lead to higher levels of testosterone secretion from the adrenals.

Elevated testosterone is common in PCOS due to insulin dysregulation. To learn more about my dietary approach to read 5 Blood Sugar Balancing Tips for PCOS.

Do Women Need Testosterone?

Yes, women need testosterone to maintain their bone health and keep their brain functioning optimally. When testosterone goes low we experience issues with osteopenia, osteoporosis, memory loss, and depression.

And our energy crashes! Without testosterone we feel fatigued all day — no matter how much we sleep.

Women also struggle with maintaining their weight when testosterone is too low. We struggle with increasing metabolically active muscle and instead find ourselves with a higher fat composition without adequate testosterone.

If you're struggling with any of the symptoms mentioned in this article I recommend getting tested right away. If your doctor won't order your labs or doesn't understand the necessity of testosterone in your health then please find a doctor who can help.

You can learn all about how to balance hormones and the foundations of whole foods nutrition in my Hormone Starter Kit, which includes a 7 Day Meal Plan and Hormone Recipe Guide.

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is one of the leading experts in women’s medicine and is a pioneer in her exploration of the far-reaching impact of hormonal birth control and the little known side effects that impact health in a large way. In her best selling book, Beyond the Pill, she shares her clinical protocols aimed at supporting women struggling with symptoms of hormone imbalance, including Post-Birth Control Pill Syndrome and birth control related side effects. A trained nutritional biochemist and Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Brighten is the founder and Clinic Director at Rubus Health, an integrative women’s medicine clinic. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and has been featured in prominent media outlets such as Forbes, Cosmopolitan, ABC news, and the New York Post. Read more about me here.