Women typically have three major sex hormones circulating in their blood: estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. The ovaries produce each of these. Estrogen is also made throughout the body but particularly in body fat. Testosterone can be made by the adrenal glands and in other parts of the body from hormones (DHEA and DHEAS) that are produced by the adrenal glands.
At the time of natural menopause or surgical removal of the ovaries, estrogen and progesterone levels fall precipitously.
Testosterone and DHEAS levels, however, fall more gradually with increasing age such that a woman in her forties has on average only half of the testosterone and DHEAS circulating in her bloodstream as does a woman in her twenties. After a woman has her ovaries removed by surgery testosterone levels can fall by up to 50 percent. However, testosterone does not change across menopause, although this varies somewhat between women.
Testosterone and other related hormones (DHEA and DHEAS) in the body (also known as androgens) have known physiological roles in women. Firstly, estrogen is made from testosterone and DHEA, and without the ability of our bodies to produce testosterone we cannot produce estrogen. Testosterone and DHEA appear to have direct independent effects in different parts of the body, and some women may experience a variety of physical symptoms when their blood levels fall. Such symptoms may include:
Impaired sexual interest (loss of libido or sexual desire), and lessened sexual responsiveness
Lessened wellbeing, loss of energy
Testosterone therapy may be beneficial for some women who have had their ovaries surgically removed or in some who have significant symptoms in the form of loss of libido, fatigue and diminished wellbeing.