June 16, 2004 -- An experimental testosterone patch may help certain women who have lost their lust for sex put some passion back into their lives.
A new study shows use of the patch increased sexual activity and sexual desire by about 50% among women with surgically-induced menopause.
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.