Testosterone treatment may boost sex drive in postmenopausal women
The review of 36 clinical trials involving about 8,500 women, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal found that testosterone when applied topically, appeared to increase sexual function and satisfaction in postmenopausal women with low sex drive or libido, improving sexual wellbeing.
Testosterone, although a male sex hormone, but is also produced by women in small amounts in their adrenal glands and ovaries. Combined with the estrogen, the female sex hormone, testosterone is known to play a role in the growth and maintenance of bone mass and female reproductive tissues. However, benefits and risk of testosterone in the treatment of women with diminished sexual well being remain controversial.
Susan Davis, a professor of women's health at the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted the systematic review and meta-analysis to assess potential benefits and risks of testosterone for women. On analysis they found that:
- Compared with placebo or a comparator (eg, oestrogen, with or without progestogen), testosterone significantly increased
- sexual function, including satisfactory sexual event frequency
- sexual desire
- reduced sexual concerns and distress in postmenopausal women.
- A significant rise in the amount of LDL-cholesterol, and reductions in the amounts of total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides were seen with testosterone administered orally, but not when administered non-orally (eg, by transdermal patch or cream).
- An overall increase in weight was recorded with testosterone treatment.
- No effects of testosterone were reported for body composition, musculoskeletal variables, or cognitive measures, although the number of women who contributed data for these outcomes was small.
- Testosterone was associated with a significantly greater likelihood of reporting acne and hair growth, but no serious adverse events were recorded.
"Testosterone been shown to increase blood flow, including vaginal blood flow, so treatment may enhance orgasm and arousal by increasing blood flow to genital tissues," said Davis.
"The effects of testosterone on individual wellbeing and musculoskeletal and cognitive health, as well as long-term safety, warrant further investigation," concluded the authors.
To read the complete study log on to https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(19)30189-5