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Menopause Health Center

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Testosterone Improves Sex for Some Women

Male Hormone Patch Helps Sexual Function in Certain Menopausal Women
WebMD Health News

May 5, 2004 (Philadelphia) -- A testosterone patch improves sexual function in certain women, according to a new study presented at a meeting of women's health experts.

Although testosterone is considered the "male" hormone, women also produce testosterone, which plays a role in a woman's sexual drive. But testosterone levels decline with menopause, a fact of life that led some researchers to suggest that replacing diminished testosterone may help women improve sexual function.

That theory makes sense to James Simon, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He tells WebMD that giving small doses of testosterone to women who have undergone hysterectomy and removal of both ovaries -- surgical menopause -- significantly improved sexual function.

Simon, who presented his findings at the 52nd Annual Clinical Meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says his study is the first large study of its kind to demonstrate that small doses of testosterone improve sexual function in these women.

The women in the study used an experimental testosterone patch twice a week, he says. The dose in this new patch is about 10 times less than the dose in the patches for men.

If a woman used a patch intended for a man, she could expect to develop severe acne, severe facial and body hair, and baldness, Simon says. Noneof these effects were seen in this study due to the low dose of testosterone used.

When Viagra, the drug used to treat erectile dysfunction in men, was approved by the FDA, the issue of male potency lost its social taboo, but women still have difficulty discussion sexual function, says Simon. "Thirty percent to 50% of women who undergo hysterectomy report decreased sexual desire, and about half of women who undergo [removal of both ovaries] report a decrease in sexual function." Likewise, studies suggest that similar numbers of postmenopausal women also experience a significant decline in sexual function.

Testosterone Patch Improves Women's Sexual Function

In the study, women who had had a hysterectomy and both ovaries removed at least six months before the study used either a 300 microgram testosterone patch twice a week or a placebo patch. The women, who were unaware of which patch they received, kept weekly diaries to record sexual activity, including arousal and orgasms.

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