Testosterone therapy in women: Does it boost sex drive?

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Testosterone therapy in women: Does it boost sex drive?

Question

Does testosterone therapy help increase sex drive in women? What are the pros and cons?

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Answer

Research shows that the hormone testosterone does effectively boost sex drive — as well as remedy other sexual problems — in certain women with sexual dysfunction. But the long-term safety of testosterone therapy for women is unknown. For this reason, some doctors are hesitant to recommend testosterone therapy.

Testosterone therapy usually is prescribed only for women who have sufficient estrogen levels and not for women who are postmenopausal and can't or choose not to take estrogen. Testosterone therapy might be appropriate if:

  • You have reduced sex drive, depression and fatigue after surgically induced menopause and estrogen therapy hasn't been effective in relieving your symptoms
  • You're postmenopausal, you're taking estrogen therapy and you have a decreased sex drive with no other identifiable causes

Testosterone therapy isn't appropriate for postmenopausal women who have a history of breast or uterine cancer or those who have cardiovascular or liver disease.

Testosterone therapy for women usually comes in the form of a cream, gel or patch, but sometimes it's prescribed as a pill. However, no commonly prescribed testosterone preparations have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in women. If testosterone is prescribed, it's for off-label use.

Although testosterone contributes to healthy sexual function in women, other factors play a larger role in postmenopausal sexual dysfunction. These factors include decreased estrogen levels, vaginal dryness, medication side effects, chronic health conditions, loss of a spouse or partner, lack of emotional intimacy, conflict, stress, or mood concerns.

Last Updated: 2012-04-10
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