Efficacy of vaginally applied estrogen, testosterone, or polyacrylic acid on sexual function in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial

J Sex Med. 2014 May;11(5):1262-70. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12473. Epub 2014 Feb 25.


Introduction: Female libido is multifactorial and complex. Declining estrogen levels in postmenopausal women affects vaginal function.

Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate female sexual function after using topical estrogen, testosterone, or polyacrylic acid as vaginal lubricants with K-Y jelly as a placebo lubricant.

Methods: This was a randomized controlled clinical trial on 80 postmenopausal women between 40 and 70 years of age with follow-up at the Menopause Clinic of the CAISM Unicamp. The women were randomized to treatment with topical vaginal estrogen, testosterone, polyacrylic acid, or oil lubricant alone, three times a week for a period of 12 weeks from November 2011 to January 2013.

Main outcome measure: We used the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) to assess changes in sexual response at baseline, and after 6 and 12 weeks.

Results: After 12 weeks of treatment, polyacrylic acid and topical testosterone produced improvements in the FSFI domains of sexual desire, lubrication, satisfaction, reduced pain during intercourse, and total score compared with lubricant alone. Treatment with topical estrogen in comparison with lubricant alone showed an improvement in the FSFI field of desire. The intragroup analysis over the time of the treatment showed improvements in the fields of desire, lubrication, and reduced pain for polyacrylic acid, testosterone, and estrogen. Furthermore, women who used testosterone showed improvements over time in the fields of arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction.

Conclusions: Treatment of postmenopausal women with symptoms of vaginal atrophy with polyacrylic acid, testosterone, and estrogen for 12 weeks produced improvements in self-reported female sexual function when compared with a placebo lubricant.

Keywords: Hormones; Sexuality; Vaginal Atrophy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrylic Resins / administration & dosage*
  • Administration, Intravaginal
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Androgens / administration & dosage*
  • Cellulose / administration & dosage
  • Cellulose / analogs & derivatives
  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use
  • Estrogens / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Glycerol / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Libido / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Orgasm / drug effects
  • Phosphates / administration & dosage
  • Postmenopause / drug effects*
  • Propylene Glycols / administration & dosage
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects*
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage*
  • Vaginal Creams, Foams, and Jellies / administration & dosage


  • Acrylic Resins
  • Androgens
  • Estrogen Receptor Modulators
  • Estrogens
  • K-Y jelly
  • Phosphates
  • Propylene Glycols
  • Vaginal Creams, Foams, and Jellies
  • Testosterone
  • carbopol 940
  • Cellulose
  • Glycerol