Hormone Patch May Raise Women's Desire for Sex
More Desire, Sexual Satisfaction Reported by Hysterectomy Patients
July 25, 2005 -- A testosterone patch may help improve the sex lives of
women who have had hysterectomies, new research shows.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, only
included women who had had their ovaries and uterus removed. That drastically
alters a woman's production of sex hormones, which may affect her desire for
A third to half of all women who have their ovaries removed report a drop in
sexual desire after the procedure, write Glenn Braunstein, MD, and
The testosterone patch is not approved by the FDA for treating women with
low sexual desire.
stating that the
panel hadn't seen enough evidence of the patch's long-term safety.
Many women who have not had those operations also report
Decreased sexual desire is one of women's top four common sexual problems,
write the researchers.
Could a testosterone patch also help those women? It's too early to say; the
patch wasn't tested on them.
Sexual desire has many layers; the precise causes of low desire are not
known. While testosterone is a male sex hormone, women also make it in small
Braunstein's study included 447 U.S. women, 318 of whom finished the 24-week
The women were 24-70 years old. All had been in monogamous sexual
relationships for at least a year and wanted to improve their sex lives.
Their surgery had sent them into early menopause. The women were also taking
the female sex hormone estrogen.
First, the women filled out surveys about their sex lives. The surveys
included desire, orgasm, sexual self-image, pleasure, and responsiveness.
Then, the women were randomly given either a testosterone patch or a fake
patch (a placebo). The women didn't know which patch they got.
When surveys were repeated, women wearing the testosterone patch reported
increased sexual desire and more frequent satisfying sexual experiences
compared with those wearing the fake patch.
Women wearing the fake patch also reported improvements, but not as much as
with the real testosterone patches.
Several testosterone doses were tested. Benefits were seen with the
mid-level dose (300 micrograms) but not the low dose. A higher dose wasn't more
beneficial, write the researchers.
The study was funded by Proctor & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, the
testosterone patch's maker.
The patches were "well tolerated," write the researchers. All groups
had similar proportions of patients reporting acne, hirsutism (unwanted hair),
and other hormonal side effects.
Skin reactions to the patches were "mild or moderate," write the
researchers. They didn't note major changes in cholesterol, blood fats, or
However, the study only lasted 24 weeks. Long-term effects were not