Androgen therapy in women, beyond libido

Climacteric. 2013 Aug;16 Suppl 1:18-24. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2013.801736. Epub 2013 May 27.

Abstract

Objective: The aim of this review was to summarize the literature regarding the potential role of testosterone therapy for women.

Methods: The author conducted a search of the literature using Medline (Ovid, 1946-present) and PubMed (1966-2013) for English-language studies that included the following search terms: 'testosterone' or 'androgen' combined with 'women', 'therapy' or 'treatment'.

Results: Randomized, placebo-controlled trials have consistently shown that transdermal testosterone therapy improves sexual desire, arousal, orgasm frequency and satisfaction in premenopausal and postmenopausal women presenting with sexual desire/arousal problems. No adverse metabolic effects have been observed in these studies. In postmenopausal women, testosterone therapy has also been associated with favorable effects on body composition, bone, cardiovascular function and cognitive performance.

Conclusions: Although androgens have many varied roles, the focus of testosterone therapy for women has been on improving sexual desire. Not only do testosterone effects on sexuality extend beyond libido, but testosterone has other key physiological actions. Issues that urgently need to be addressed include approval of a testosterone formulation that delivers a female dose such that physicians refrain from prescribing compounded testosterone or modifying doses of testosterone formulated for men and regulation of prescription of compounded androgens for women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition
  • Bone Density
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Humans
  • Libido / drug effects
  • Libido / physiology
  • Menopause
  • Orgasm
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / drug therapy
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / physiology
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use*

Substances

  • Testosterone