Testosterone, an essential precursor of estrogen in women, is made in the ovaries and adrenal glands. There is a steady decline in testosterone levels from the 20s through menopause. With surgical menopause, the level of testosterone drops precipitously. No clear lower limit of testosterone has been established; however 15 ng per dL ( nmol per L) commonly is used. One study 38 found that women with 0 to 10 ng per dL (0 to nmol per L) had markedly decreased sexual desire in all situations and absent or markedly decreased orgasms. Because of studies like this, supplemented with anecdotal evidence, many women have been started on testosterone therapy.
Although short-term use of low doses of testosterone appears relatively safe, the potential health risks of long-term steroid use are still being researched. As the dose and duration of steroid use escalates, so do the health risks. Relatively minor side effects evolve into bigger problems, manifesting as irreparable heart or liver damage, high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attack. If everybody jumped off a cliff, would you follow them? Self administering anabolic steroids is illegal and dangerous. As with any drug, there's use, and there's abuse. The old saying "everything in moderation" surely applies here. The chances are good that at least one in three readers of this book have used anabolic steroids. If you choose to use these drugs, stick with lower doses and take adequate off cycles. Remember that bodybuilding is supposed to be a healthy pastime, not a fast track to an early demise. In the next chapter, we'll look at some of the nutritional supplements that offer a safe method of enhancing your physique.