According To An MD, This One Hormone Makes You More Of A Risk-Taker
What's the most abundant biologically active hormone women make? Hint: It's actually not estrogen. Rather, it's testosterone: "Women have 10 to 20 times less [testosterone] than men, but we are exquisitely sensitive to those levels," says Harvard-trained integrative medicine doctor Sara Gottfried, M.D., author of Women, Food, and Hormones, on the mindbodygreen podcast. "It's involved in muscle mass, it's involved in sex drive, it's involved in vitality, it helps to reduce anxiety..." she continues.
Essentially, this is one famous hormone—but it's often misunderstood in women (as are many other hormones, while we're at it). But according to Gottfried, it's high time we take advantage of testosterone. In fact, she says testosterone levels are actually linked to confidence and risk-taking.
The link between testosterone and risk-taking.
"We know for women that testosterone is especially important for confidence, agency, and even risk-taking," says Gottfried. She references a study on more than 500 MBA students at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business: The research found that women with higher testosterone levels were more entrepreneurial and willing to choose "riskier" careers in finance after graduation.
Of course, we'd be remiss not to mention the social expectations at play here—despite making some progress, women are often excluded from careers in finance at all, let alone a job deemed "riskier" than the rest—but it's interesting that testosterone may have a role (even if it's small) in the behavior.
What to do about it.
"We want to be thinking about this because testosterone tends to decline starting in your late 20s," notes Gottfried (for both men and women). It's a natural process that happens to everyone, but if your diet is filled with excess sugar and you're under tons of stress, she says the hormone can decline at an earlier and faster rate.
So to keep testosterone levels up to par, experts often recommend a nutrient-dense diet rich in healthy fats, as well as regular exercise, quality sleep, and stress management. It's advice for optimizing your health at large, but considering your hormones are at the root of so many bodily functions, it makes sense these well-being practices would have an effect. Some supplements have been shown to help restore low testosterone levels as well.
Everyone's body is different, so it's important to consult a doctor if you're at all concerned about testosterone levels, but the general lifestyle and nutrition advice above can help out in a bunch of avenues, too.
According to Gottfried, testosterone levels have been associated with confidence and risk-taking in women. That's not to say you need to get your levels checked, like, right now—but it's an interesting tidbit to know as your levels naturally decline with age.
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.