While testosterone is typically thought of as the male sex hormone, the female body also produces small amounts. In men, the testes and adrenal gland produce testosterone. Women produce this hormone in much smaller quantities through the ovaries and adrenal gland, and the body utilizes it for metabolizing fat and balancing estrogen hormones. The testosterone hormones work with other chemicals in the body to create a healthy metabolism. Testosterone also produces typical male physical characteristics and controls the sex drive.
The Weight Watchers Research Department reports that testosterone levels are directly related to weight issues in men. According to Weight Watchers, a 2006 research study found that obese men were 2.4 times more likely to have low testosterone compared to men at a healthy weight. Likewise, healthy, active individuals are more likely to have normal or better testosterone levels. Although there is a synthetic testosterone hormone that can be taken to raise hormone levels, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and most physicians don’t recommend its use. Instead, they suggest that you raise testosterone levels naturally through exercise, losing weight if necessary and maintaining a healthy diet.
Obesity is directly linked to low testosterone levels; being overweight can slow the production of testosterone in both men and women. Combining low testosterone levels with being inactive, overweight or both means that any fats consumed will not be properly metabolized. Low testosterone levels directly lead to muscle loss. Exercise causes the cells to properly metabolize fat proteins and increase production levels of testosterone, creating muscle mass instead of fat tissue.
The safest way to increase testosterone levels is to maintain a healthy diet and work to build muscle tone. By consuming proper amounts of protein and limiting fat content, you can help your body produce increased amounts of testosterone. Exercising on a regular basis will also result in increased hormone production. Testosterone and other hormones help the proteins you consume turn into muscle instead of fat; exercise works with the testosterone to increase muscle mass. Combining exercise with a proper diet will raise normal testosterone production in men and will regulate normal levels in women.
There are buccal patches and pills that use a synthetic form of testosterone. The buccal patch is a small patch for men that goes inside the mouth between the lip and gums. The FDA warns against using synthetic products for an extended period as this could interfere with the proper function of your adrenal gland. Since your body naturally produces testosterone, stomach discomfort or irritation, nausea or vomiting could occur from taking a supplement. Other side effects include headache, trouble sleeping, or change in sexual habits or desires. Consult your physician if you notice any side effects.
Women should only take pill forms of testosterone for use in rare cases such as treatment for breast cancer or irregular menstrual cycles. Because testosterone therapy is not linked to weight loss in women, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly is the solution for low testosterone levels. If testosterone therapy is used, it should be discontinued once a blood test confirms a normal testosterone level; extended usage could cause harm to the ovaries. Warning signs of testosterone over-usage in women are increased facial or body hair, deepening of the voice, breast shrinkage or cessation of menstruation.