Testosterone Patch May Boost Women's Libido
Experimental Patch May Help Menopausal Women Regain Sexual Desire
June 16, 2004 -- An experimental testosterone patch may help
certain women who have lost their lust for sex put some passion back into their
A new study shows use of the patch increased sexual activity
and sexual desire by about 50% among women with surgically-induced
The testosterone patch is not yet approved by the FDA for
treating women low sexual desire, but researchers say the results of this phase
III clinical trial may pave the way for developing new options for treating
women with this common problem.
Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, who manufactures the
testosterone patch which is to be called Intrinsa if it is approved by the FDA,
sponsored the study. Procter & Gamble is a WebMD sponsor.
Testosterone Patch Increases Sexual Desire
In the study, which was presented this week at the Endocrine
Society's 86th Annual Meeting in New Orleans, researchers compared
the effects of using a testosterone patch containing 300 micrograms of
testosterone against a placebo patch in 533 women with hypoactive sexual desire
disorder (HSDD). This form of sexual dysfunction is defined as a lack of sexual
desire that causes a woman personal distress.
All of the women had surgically induced menopause after having
their ovaries removed an average of nine years prior. These women are ideal for
testing the patch because a woman's ovaries are one of the main sources of the
hormone testosterone. Once the ovaries are removed, testosterone levels are
low. Testosterone is known to increase sexual desire.
The patches were worn on the skin and changed twice weekly
during the 24-week study.
By the end of the study, researchers found that there was a 51%
increase in sexual activity among the women using the testosterone patch
compared with the start of the study. There was also a 49% increase in sexual
desire during this period.
Sexual activity and desire also increased in the placebo group,
which is common in studies of drugs designed to treat sexual problems, but the
increases seen in the testosterone-patch group were significantly greater. For
example, sexual episodes increased by an average of 1.56 per four-week period
in the testosterone-patch group compared with an increase of 0.73 episodes in
the placebo group.
The study showed there were also significant increases in other
measures of sexual function, such as arousal, orgasm, pleasure, responsiveness,
and self-image. In addition, the women who were treated with the testosterone
patch reported lower levels of distress.
Overall, the testosterone and placebo groups had the same
amount of side effects. Researchers say more than 90% of the side effects found
with the testosterone patch were mild. The most common were irritation at the
application site, upper respiratory infection, and excess body hair.