July 26th 2016
"My energy levels have shot up, I’m more focused and far less emotional, which is a relief all round"
February 24th 2017 / 1 comment
Sarah Vine feels better approaching 50 and going through the menopause than she did at 40. The reason? A daily testosterone hormone prescription
When last I wrote about the menopause, I was just off to see HRT guru Dr Nick Panay. As a result, I’ve added testosterone to my daily supplement of oestrogen and progesterone - with remarkable results.
Of the trio, testosterone is the one that has the most immediately noticeable effect. I have been erring on the side of caution with the dose (Panay prescribed a daily blob of Testim 1 per cent gel, around the size of a large pea), but still: the results are remarkable.
It’s not just that my energy levels have shot up (if before I was regularly a two out of ten, now I’d say I’m more of an eight, sometimes even a nine); it’s also improved my mental ability. I’m more focused, more decisive, better at getting things done. And I am far less emotional too, which is a relief all round.
Of course, were I not fully menopausal and, as Panay put it, ‘running on empty’, I would be bonkers. As it is, my daily prescription has simply restored my testosterone to near-normal levels.
Most people associate testosterone with men. In fact, women produce it too, in the ovaries and the adrenal glands. It acts to increase levels of neurotransmitters - messenger chemicals in the brain - and is also instrumental in the production of serotonin and dopamine - and, by association, sex-drive.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Healthy levels of testosterone in women help maintain strong hair and bones, as well as contributing to improved cognitive function. It even staves off cellulite, since it acts as a counter to the type of oestrogen that causes those annoying dimples and encourages muscle growth over fat.
Since one of the (many) unpleasant side effects of the menopause is the fact of having to exercise twice as hard for half the result, this is very useful in the eternal battle against the bulge.
I’ve noticed something else too: my skin is glowing, and it’s much less dry than it used to be. My nails don’t flake and break like they use to either. And my hair grows like a weed. The only disappointment is that I still have a fat tummy - but I’m starting to suspect that there is nothing on this earth that can shift that.
Still, it’s as if my body has had a much-needed and long overdue oil change. Instead of spluttering and misfiring, the engine is humming along nicely - or at least not too badly for a 1967 model.
MORE GLOSS: Sarah Vine - Why do we still fear the M word?
My only regret is that I didn’t find out about it sooner. Especially since the positive effect of giving testosterone to women have been well-understood in medical circles since the early Fifties.
In the Seventies, clinical trials found it to be 80 per cent effective in restoring sex drive among post-menopausal women with severe loss of libido. In 2004, it made headlines as the ‘female Viagra’. And yet it is only just starting to be prescribed to women like me, and rarely on the NHS.
Testosterone is one of the first hormones to tail off in women, and levels begin to fall around the age of 40. Looking back, that explains the utter exhaustion, low-level depression and poor health that characterised my early forties.
At the time, of course, I thought it was just a combination of work and young children. But now, if anything, my life is much more stressful than it was back then - and yet I feel so much more able to cope. Odd to feel better approaching 50 than I did when I was 40, but there you have it.
And, just because I know you’re wondering, no I have not grown a beard. Not yet anyway. If I do, Gloss readers will be the first to know.
Read Sarah's Menopause Diary here on Get The Gloss.
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