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Testosterone May Lift Libido in Postmenopausal Women

Uncertainty remains over long-term effects


WEDNESDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- A testosterone patch can provide a modest but meaningful improvement in postmenopausal female libido for women not taking estrogen, according to research published in the Nov. 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Susan R. Davis, M.D., Ph.D., of Monash University in Prahran, Australia, and colleagues conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 814 women with low libido who were randomized to receive a patch delivering 150 or 300 μg a day of testosterone or placebo for a period of 52 weeks.

At week 24, the researchers measured the efficacy of the hormone and found that for the 300 μg testosterone group, there was an increase in the four-week frequency of satisfying sexual episodes of 2.1 versus 1.2 for the 150 μg group and 0.7 for the placebo group. Women in both treatment groups reported increased desire and decreased distress, the study showed. However, women in the 300 μg treatment group had more androgenic adverse events, such as unwanted hair growth, the investigators found.

"These findings indicate that exogenous estrogen or combined estrogen and progestin are not required for testosterone to be effective in the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder," the authors write. "Additional data are needed to assess the long-term safety of testosterone use in women with estrogen depletion."

The research was supported by grants from Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals. Several of the study authors report financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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