Boosting Testosterone Naturally in Women
As we continue our series exploring the bio-chemical changes that can take place in women in the middle years, Dr Harper caught up with Dr Vera Martins, consultant naturopath and herbalist at MPowder, for her guidance on naturally boosting testosterone in women.
Testosterone is often associated with men, although this sex hormone is also present in women (whilst in lower amounts) and responsible for the same health benefits, which include energy, muscle mass and strength, bone density, sex drive, mood and memory. The perimenopausal period is associated with fluctuation in the levels of hormones produced by the ovaries. Progesterone, oestrogen, and testosterone are all produced in various amounts by our ovaries and they are key players in libido. Testosterone is the main hormone for causing sexual desire and many women experience a lowering of their libido during their perimenopausal and menopausal years. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to naturally boost your levels of testosterone.
Top 5 testosterone boosting foods
The best nutrients to increase levels of testosterone are protein, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins particularly vitamin B6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Consider incorporating the following top 5 testosterone boosting foods into your diet on a regular basis:
- Eggs (organic, free range) – rich in protein, vitamin B6 and omega-3; 1 egg daily is recommended and safe for most people
- Almonds and pumpkin seeds – both rich in zinc, magnesium and protein; aim for 1 handful of almonds (approximately 20) and sprinkle a handful pf pumpkin seeds on your porridge, salads, and soups daily
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, which are rich in magnesium, vitamin B6 and iron; eat daily
- Wild oily fish such as salmon and mackerel – rich in omega-3 and protein; aim for at least 2 to 3 portions weekly
- Beans (particularly black, kidney, or pinto beans) – rich in protein, zinc, B vitamins and magnesium; lentils are also a great vegetarian source of protein
Which supplements and herbal remedies?
The following supplements are recommended, particularly if your diet is low on the foods above: magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins. Magnesium, in particular, is best taken as magnesium bisglycinate (also known as magnesium glycinate, diglycinate or chelate) for optimal results.
When it comes to herbal remedies, my “go-to” herbs are tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) and ashwagandha (Whitania somnifera):
- Tribulus – a study with tribulus in postmenopausal women showed that women taking an extract of tribulus saw a significant increase in their libido and testosterone levels. Take as a tea or liquid extract. For dosages, talk to an herbalist.
- Ashwagandha – although studies showing ashwagandha increases testosterone have been performed mainly on men, it is thought this herb has a similar effect on women. In any case, this herb has a long tradition, backed up by science, in supporting women’s health by balancing hormones, improving sexual function and reducing the stress response. It can be taken as powder to make a delicious latte with cinnamon and almond milk. For a therapeutic dosage, the best option is a standardised root extract taken in capsules (250 – 500 mg daily).
Before taking any supplement or herbal remedies, it is advised to seek help from a qualified medical professional, naturopath or herbalist, particularly if you suffer from a medical condition.
Chill out – the link between stress and testosterone
Chronic stress can lead to a decrease in testosterone in the body. Why? Both testosterone and cortisol (a hormone produced in high levels during periods of chronic stress) are made from the same precursor in the body. Therefore, a high demand for cortisol will have a negative impact on testosterone production, and that’s where self-care should take priority:
- Daily meditation – 10 minutes daily in the morning, with an application such as “Insight Timer”
- Short breathing exercises such as “Breathing Space” and “Pranayama” before or during potential stressful situations
- Prioritise sleep – if you are struggling, magnesium is also a great sleep aid
- Ashwagandha also helps maintain healthy cortisol levels, reduce anxiety and promote sleep
Stay active, enjoy gentle exercise and…sex
- Fast paced and intensive exercise is known to increase testosterone; however, I am usually very careful when recommending it to women in their menopausal years. Overexertion places extra demand on the adrenal glands, which will negatively impact on testosterone (the adrenal glands have a key role in testosterone production in women). Moderation is key!
- Prioritise gentle exercise like brisk walking daily, but also consider a class of aerobics, zumba or running twice weekly if you are not pushing too hard (listen to your body).
- Mind/body practices such as yoga are strongly recommended as they also nourish the nervous system and adrenals.
- Sex brings sex – testosterone increases sex drive but studies show that a healthy sex life where you enjoy regular sex also has a positive effect on testosterone.
- Remember to spend time outdoors to top up your levels of vitamin D, as studies have suggested that vitamin D may increase testosterone. Although the link between vitamin D and testosterone is not fully proven, vitamin D is still essential for overall health particularly menopausal and postmenopausal women.
For more detail on Vera’s work with MPowder, visit the website here.
Your local GP surgery might be oversubscribed so make sure you make the most of your 10 minute appointment by downloading and filling out our Menopause symptom checker, it’s a great way to get the conversation started. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.
Menopause symptoms don’t go into lockdown just because we are!
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