If you think only men suffer from low testosterone, think again! You’re probably familiar with testosterone as the “manly” hormone that makes men masculine, and it does. However, women also make testosterone, although in smaller amounts than men, and not having enough can greatly affect their health and well-being. Most women produce 15-70 ng/dL of testosterone each day in their ovaries and adrenal glands. But, when their bodies don’t make enough, problems can arise and cause symptoms such as:
- Increased pain
- Problems with sleep
- Loss of energy
- Bone loss
- Low sex drive
- Muscle loss
- Mood changes
Testosterone levels naturally decline in women as they age, but this can happen faster when exposed to toxins in the environment, some medications such as cholesterol-lowering drugs or birth control pills, and chronic stress. Being overweight, having low vitamin D levels, and not getting enough exercise can also cause testosterone levels to drop.
There are many ways to bring your testosterone levels back into a healthy range. This includes taking medications or supplementing with hormones. But, you can help your body produce its own without taking medications or hormones, just by changing your lifestyle and supplementing with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. By doing this, you can have noticeable results in as little as 24-48 hours.
11 Ways to Boost Testosterone Naturally in Women
1. Hit the Bed
Although it doesn’t sound appealing when you’re suffering from a low sex drive caused by low testosterone, spending time in bed with your significant other may naturally boost your testosterone levels. Research suggests that sexual intimacy affects testosterone levels in women, even if it’s only cuddling.
2. Lower Your Body Fat (if needed)
Since being overweight is associated with low testosterone, losing weight and lowering your body fat percentage can help increase your testosterone levels. Research has found that those who are overweight or obese are more likely to have low testosterone. As body mass index (BMI) goes up, testosterone levels go down. A healthy BMI is 18.5 to 25 for women. Want to know what your BMI is? Click HERE for a BMI calculator.
3. Cut Down on Sugar
If you want to naturally boost your testosterone levels into a healthy range, you need to kick the sugar habit because low testosterone and diabetes go hand-in-hand. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), those with Type 2 Diabetes are twice as likely to develop low testosterone. Even if you don’t have diabetes now, if you are eating a diet high in refined grains and sugars, your blood sugar levels may remain high, which will put pressure on your pancreas to produce a lot of insulin to help remove the sugar from your blood stream. Over time, you can become insulin-resistant, which causes Type 2 diabetes. When this happens, your body stops producing testosterone like it should. Learn how to cut back on sugar by reading this article: Click Here.
4. Hit the Weights
Lift those weights, girls! Using weights during exercise to build muscles and increase strength isn’t just for the boys. Lifting weights will help you naturally burn fat, slim down your body, and help keep your testosterone level in a healthy range. Don’t worry about building big muscles and looking like a man. Because our bodies produce much smaller amounts of testosterone, there’s no risk of becoming bulky. Aim for full-body workouts covering all major muscle groups in each session. Complete 2-4 sets per exercise and aim for 6-12 repetitions per set. You’re aiming for 8-10 exercises in total each time you work out.
5. Shorter Workouts, Shorter Breaks
Another aspect of strength training that can boost your testosterone levels is the duration of your workouts and how much you’re resting between reps. If you’re regularly working out over very lengthy times and are taking long rest periods, then your testosterone levels may take a hit. Workouts lasting longer than an hour may start to spike cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which may lower testosterone.
Additionally, research has demonstrated that a shorter rest period between sets (1 minute versus 3 minutes) resulted in temporarily higher testosterone following exercise using weights. To boost your testosterone, keep your rest periods short and total workout time to 60 minutes or less.
6. Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D arguably the most important nutrient that can help increase testosterone levels. Research has found that those with low vitamin D levels are associated with low testosterone levels and vice versa. In addition, a study published in the Journal of Hormone and Metabolism Research suggests that vitamin D supplementation increases testosterone levels.
While eating foods high in vitamin D can help, the best way to get enough is through sunlight. Most experts recommend getting about 10-15 minutes daily of direct sunlight without wearing sunscreen if you are fair to medium toned. If you have darker skin, you may need more time in the sun to make enough vitamin D since your skin has more natural protection against the sun’s effects. Some experts recommend that darker toned people spend about 40 minutes to one hour in the sun daily if possible. Worried about the damaging effects of sun exposure? Use sunscreen only on areas with the most exposure, such as shoulders, nose, and back of neck, and don’t stay in the sun longer than needed.
Treating vitamin D deficiency with supplements should be done under medical supervision. Since it can be stored in the body for a long period of time, levels can become too high and can cause problems. You should begin by having your vitamin D blood level taken and evaluated. If the results show that you truly are deficient, you will be started on a course of treatment to bring your blood level into the optimal range. According to research on vitamin D optimization, the standard treatment for vitamin D deficiency is eight weeks of 50,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D once a week. After this time, your levels will again be tested and either this course will continue or you will be placed on a maintenance dose of vitamin D.
Zinc is an essential mineral that helps enzymes break down food and other nutrients so that cells can function properly. Having a zinc deficiency can lead to low testosterone. However, zinc deficiency in the United States is uncommon, but it is possible. Those at risk for a deficiency include people with gastrointestinal disorders, vegetarians, vegans, and alcoholics. People with sickle cell anemia and older adults who are undernourished are also at risk.
The recommended daily intake of zinc for adult women is 8 mg/day. Eating several servings a day of foods that contain zinc such as oysters, beef and lamb, pumpkin seeds, and spinach should help you maintain enough zinc in your body. Taking a zinc supplement can also help bring zinc levels to a healthy level and boost testosterone.
8. Reduce Stress
Too much stress increases cortisol (the stress hormone), which in turn can lower your testosterone. Of course, it may be hard to remove things that cause stress, such as work and children (the latter may seem to cause the most stress and is also the hardest to remove, ha!). Therefore, it may be easier to just learn to cope with stress in a more effective way.
Here are a few tips on how to de-stress RIGHT NOW.
Exercise. Sounds a little counter-intuitive right? When you’re tired and stressed, your instinct is probably to lay on the couch and watch TV right? Well, if you can just push yourself to get out of the house and go for a walk around your neighborhood, even if just for 10 minutes, I can guarantee you will feel better than you did before. In fact, you might not want to go back home. Especially if you have a bunch of needy kids to get back to right? Ha. Exercise is great for de-stressing because it increases endorphins (“the happiness hormone”). Ever heard of runner’s high? That’s what causes it.
Meditation. This really helps you take charge of your nervous system and emotions. It is “mind over matter.” Studies have shown that meditation improves the ability to regulate emotions in the brain, permanently! When I was working in research involving Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which involves various forms of meditation, I saw first-hand the effects it had on the body and the results were amazing. Not only does it help you relieve stress, but it also improves your concentration, it increases self-awareness, it encourages a healthy lifestyle, and it slows aging. Stress causes you to age faster, so cut down if you want to stay young.
Aromatherapy. Do yourself a favor and buy an oil diffuser and some of these calming essential oils:
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Rose (Rosa damascena)
- Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
- Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
Aromatherapy reduces stress because our sense of smell triggers very powerful emotional responses. Different oils produce different effects. Some are calming and some are energizing. To reduce stress, I recommend the oils listed above.
Electronics-free day. Sounds impossible? You would be shocked if you knew how many times you check your phone texts, email, social media, the news, etc. It’s such a major distraction during the day, which causes you to get less work done and then work piles up and stresses you out. Take 1 day off (maybe a Sunday) and have everyone in your house put all electronics for one day, take off to the beach (if you’re in FL) or skiing (if you’re up north) and learn to breathe and relax and de-clutter your mind.
9. Get Proper Sleep
Sleep is so underrated! It is a time for healing and it is also a time when your body produces hormones such as testosterone. If you aren’t getting enough sleep (7-9 hours) and at the right time (10pm-6am), your body won’t be able to produce enough. More sleep results in higher levels of testosterone. Researchers at the University of Chicago recorded the sleeping patterns of healthy men and found that participants’ testosterone levels increased the longer they slept.
Are you having a hard time catching Zzzz’s? Here are some tips on how you can skip counting sheep and fall asleep faster:
Get it all out. Keep a notepad and pen by your bed so that if you start to worry about things you need to do the next day, you can just write them down so you don’t worry about forgetting them, which will prevent you from getting a good nights’ sleep.
Create a ritual. Do the same thing every night. Set a consistent bedtime, have some chamomile tea in bed, listen to music. Consistency will help you.
Avoid big meals, sugar, and alcohol before bed. Meals high in protein will have a negative impact on your sleep. The same goes for foods high in sugar, which includes alcohol. If you’re very hungry before bed time, have a small snack that is easy to digest.
Avoid energy drinks and don’t drink caffeine after 4pm. Besides being loaded with sugar and nasty chemicals, energy drinks can obviously kill your sleep. It takes caffeine a long time to exit your body, so try not to have coffee, tea, or anything with caffeine after around 4pm.
10. Liver Detox
Your liver is a powerhouse for testosterone production in the body because it holds an enzyme that aids in testosterone production. When your liver can’t function properly because of liver disease or toxic overload, your testosterone levels will take a jump off the deep end. According to research published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, testosterone levels dropped in up to 90% of those with cirrhosis (a type of liver disease).
Help clean up your liver by eating plenty of fiber, fermented foods, lowering sugar intake. You can find more tips HERE.
Since testosterone is made in the body from cholesterol, it should come as no surprise that if you aren’t getting enough healthy fats (cholesterols), you’re also likely not going to produce enough testosterone. There are two types of cholesterols in the body: LDL cholesterol (“bad”) and HDL cholesterol (“good”). For general health, we want to have High levels of HDL cholesterol and Low levels of LDL cholesterol.
Research has found that higher levels of testosterone have been associated with higher levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, which may also protect the heart and blood vessels. Additional research published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry found that eating less healthy fats resulted in lower levels of testosterone.
It doesn’t hurt to add more healthy fats into your diet to raise HDL cholesterol and testosterone levels. And don’t worry, eating fat won’t necessarily make you fat.
Top HDL Cholesterol-Boosting Foods (EAT THESE)
- Extra-virgin olive oil & coconut oil
- Whole eggs
- Nuts and seeds such as flaxseed, almonds, chia seeds, & pumpkin seeds
- Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, & halibut
- Red wine (1 serving day for women, 2 servings a day for men. Hey, I don’t make the rules!)
Top LDL Cholesterol-Boosting Foods (AVOID THESE)
- Processed vegetable oils such as canola oil, corn oil, & soybean oil
- Processed snacks such as potato chips & crackers
- Processed meats such as hot dogs & bologna
- Baked goods such as cookies, white bread, and cakes (Click HERE for a FREE recipe for a delicious dessert that is good for your cholesterol: Paleo Chocolate Cake)
A Paleo diet can work wonders for your cholesterol levels and may help bring your testosterone level back to a healthy level. Want some Paleo recipes? Click HERE for some great cookbooks!
Want to know more about healthy and unhealthy fats? Check out this article here >> Good Fats vs. Bad Fats.
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