Objective: Review of literature with regard to androgen replacement therapy in women.
Design: Review of the MEDLINE database and references from articles.
Conclusions: Androgens affect sexual function, bone health, muscle mass, body composition, mood, energy, and the sense of well-being. Androgen insufficiency clearly has been demonstrated in patients with hypopituitarism, adrenalectomy, oophorectomy, and in some women placed on oral estrogen therapy which increases sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels and lowers the free and bioavailable forms of T. Symptoms of androgen insufficiency in women may include a diminished sense of well-being, low mood, fatigue, and hypoactive sexual desire disorder with decreased libido, or decreased sexual receptivity and pleasure that causes a great deal of personal distress. The preponderance of evidence from clinical trials supports the correlation of decreased endogenous androgen levels with these symptoms and alleviation of many of the symptoms with the administration of T or, in some cases, DHEA. There are no Food and Drug Administration-approved androgen preparations on the market for treating androgen insufficiency in women. The safety profile of androgens in doses used for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder has been excellent with only mild acne and hirsutism being noted in a minority of patients.