Q. I have read that testosterone helps revive a woman’s sex drive. How do you find a doctor to prescribe it?
I’ve discussed this with my physician, a nurse practitioner, a urologist and a psychiatrist. The only person who responded said, “Well, if you want to grow a beard…”
The use of testosterone must be a very well kept secret. Is it true that hormone replacement therapy can have an adverse effect on desire?
A. Hormone replacement therapy often includes both estrogen and progesterone. The progesterone component can indeed diminish sex drive in some women. Even birth control pills can have a negative impact on libido. A study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine (Feb. 2012) reported that, “The treatment with Yasmin® (Bayer-Schering Italia) is associated with increased pain during intercourse, with decreased libido and spontaneous arousability, and with diminished frequency of sexual intercourse and orgasm.”
Researchers have discovered that testosterone may improve libido in postmenopausal women. In 2003 researchers reported in the journal Menopause that, “Testosterone therapy improves well-being, mood, and sexual function in premenopausal women with low libido and low testosterone. As a substantial number of women experience diminished sexual interest and well-being during their late reproductive years, further research is warranted to evaluate the benefits and safety of longer-term intervention.”
A study published in 2008 in the respected Annals of Internal Medicine reported that, “A daily 90-microL dose of transdermal testosterone improves self-reported sexual satisfaction for premenopausal women with reduced libido and low serum-free testosterone levels by a mean of 0.8 SSE per month.”
Another 2008 study called APHRODITE enlisted 814 women who were randomized to receive either testosterone or placebo. The trial (published in the New England Journal of Medicine) lasted a full year. The researchers concluded: “In postmenopausal women not receiving estrogen therapy, treatment with a patch delivering 300 microg of testosterone per day resulted in a modest but meaningful improvement in sexual function. The long-term effects of testosterone, including effects on the breast, remain uncertain.”
Despite such data, the FDA has decided not to approve testosterone for low libido or sexual dissatisfaction. That is why health professionals are often reluctant to prescribe testosterone for women. A study is underway to determine the long-term benefits and risks of a low-dose testosterone gel. The scientists will be looking for cardiovascular complications, breast cancer and assessing general safety concerns. It will be several years before the study is completed.
To learn more about the pros and cons of testosterone you may want to download our FREE Guide to Female Sexuality. It will provide information about medications that can dampen desire as well as tips for lubrication.