WHAT IS IT?
Testosterone is a hormone made by the ovaries and the adrenal glands. It is used by some perimenopausal and postmenopausal women to treat low sex drive. Low sex drive is also known as low libido or, more technically, hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Health professionals consider libido to be low when a woman’s decrease in sexual interest has caused her enough concern to seek treatment.
OUR BOTTOM LINE: DOES IT HELP?
YES. A recent panel of experts concluded that current studies support the use of testosterone to improve libido in postmenopausal women. It may increase sexual desire, pleasure, arousal, and orgasm. But the effect is modest – an average of one additional satisfying sexual experience per month.
Using testosterone for low libido in women is considered an “off label” use – it does not have FDA approval in the U.S. In fact, there are no FDA approved products for women with low libido.
The North American Menopause Society recommends trying non-medical ways to cope with symptoms before trying medicines like testosterone therapy. We agree. Since testosterone therapy has some risks, see if a non-medical solution works for you before trying testosterone.
LOW SEX DRIVE
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
Testosterone should be given in doses that raise the testosterone level to the average found in premenopausal women. At these doses the main side effects are mild acne and an increase in facial hair.
There is almost no information about the risks of long-term testosterone use in women (more than 2 years of use). There are hypothetical risks of heart attack, stroke, blood clots in the veins, and breast cancer.
QUALITY OF LIFE EXPECTATIONS
If low libido is a problem, using testosterone may help improve sexual quality of life.
IF I WANT TO TRY THIS TREATMENT WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS?
If you are troubled by low libido, talk with your doctor.
- There are many potential causes of this problem – these will be evaluated before testosterone therapy is considered.
- A baseline blood testosterone level should be taken. Your testosterone level should be followed to be sure your levels stay in a normal range.
- If you do not see a change in libido in 3-6 months consider stopping the therapy.
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Last reviewed June, 2021