Is there a correlation between androgens and sexual desire in women?

J Sex Med. 2015 Feb;12(2):358-73. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12774. Epub 2014 Dec 5.


Introduction: For women, the correlation between circulating androgens and sexual desire is inconclusive. Substitution with androgens at physiological levels improves sexual function in women who experience decreased sexual desire and androgen deficiency from surgical menopause, pituitary disease, and age-related decline in androgen production in the ovaries. Measuring bioactive testosterone is difficult and new methods have been proposed, including measuring the primary androgen metabolite androsterone glucuronide (ADT-G).

Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate a possible correlation between serum levels of androgens and sexual desire in women and whether the level of ADT-G is better correlated than the level of circulating androgens with sexual desire.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study including 560 healthy women aged 19-65 years divided into three age groups. Correlations were considered to be statistically significant at P<0.05.

Main outcome measure: Sexual desire was determined as the total score of the sexual desire domain of the Female Sexual Function Index. Total testosterone (TT), calculated free testosterone (FT), androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), and ADT-G were analyzed using mass spectrometry.

Results: Sexual desire correlated overall with FT and androstenedione in the total cohort of women. In a subgroup of women aged 25-44 years with no use of systemic hormonal contraception, sexual desire correlated with TT, FT, androstenedione, and DHEAS. In women aged 45-65 years, androstenedione correlated with sexual desire. No correlations between ADT-G and sexual desire were identified.

Conclusions: In the present study, FT and androstenedione were statistically significantly correlated with sexual desire in the total cohort of women. ADT-G did not correlate more strongly than circulating androgens with sexual desire and is therefore not superior to measuring circulating androgens by mass spectrometry.

Keywords: 17b-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase; Androgen; Androgen Metabolites; Androstenedione; Androsterone Glucuronide; DHEAS; FSFI; Sexual Desire; Testosterone; Woman.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Androgens / blood*
  • Androstenedione / blood
  • Androstenols / blood*
  • Androsterone / analogs & derivatives
  • Androsterone / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Libido / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Women's Health


  • Androgens
  • Androstenols
  • androsterone glucuronide
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Androsterone

Associated data

  • GENBANK/CD004509