Male Sex Hormone Gets Women in the Mood
But Testosterone Safety Questions Remain
4 Breast Cancers Found
Women in the higher-dose testosterone group reported a slight increase in facial hair, but they did not find this troubling enough to stop taking the hormone, Davis says.
Of more concern were four cases of breast cancer diagnosed in the testosterone users during the study. No breast cancers were reported in the placebo group.
Davis says two of the breast cancers appear to have been present, but missed, before the start of the trial. A third cancer occurred in a woman who had taken estrogen hormone therapy for 27 years.
"Considering that most women will only end up using testosterone for a couple of years, it is probably safe," she says.
But Julia R. Heiman, PhD, who directs the Kinsey Institute for Sex, Gender and Reproduction, isn't so sure.
"I think very important questions remain about the safety of this treatment in light of this finding," she tells WebMD.
Heiman says there is a clear need for better ways to address sexual desire issues in women, especially because so many women now take antidepressants and other drugs that can cause sexual problems.
But in an editorial published with the study, Heiman urged caution in using testosterone for low libido "until we understand more about its possible link with breast cancer and are better able to predict which patients are more likely to be subject to negative effects."
A spokesman for Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals would not say if the company will seek FDA approval for its testosterone patch developed for women.
"We continue to work with the FDA to determine if there is an appropriate pathway forward for Intrinsa, but beyond that we are not providing comment," Tom Millikin tells WebMD.