The main steroid hormones produced by the ovary are estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. Whilst testosterone is produced by the ovaries, women also make pre-cursors of testosterone not only in the ovaries but also in the adrenal glands (which sit on top of the kidneys). These hormones continue to be produced, even after the menopause.
Female testosterone is important for energy, motivation and libido (sex drive) as well as for muscle strength and stamina. Some reports suggest that low testosterone levels can be associated with low mood and poor concentration.
Testosterone production naturally declines with increasing age so that, by the time women reach their mid-40s, they have approximately half the testosterone they had in their 20s.
Especially for women who have had their ovaries removed surgically, have had radiotherapy/chemotherapy or who go through the menopause at a young age, the addition of testosterone may be considered. For the vast majority of women, this needs to be given once estrogens have been adequately replaced. There are clear guidelines regarding the prescribing of testosterone and blood tests are required before considering treatment, and in order to monitor and adjust prescribing.
In the UK, there are no licensed products for women available, although we and other Menopause Specialists do prescribe or recommend testosterone by using the products that are licensed for men in much smaller doses.