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Would taking testosterone boost my sex drive during menopause?

Testosterone is a hormone that plays an important role in women's bodies. Often thought of incorrectly as exclusively a male sex hormone, testosterone is secreted by the ovaries and adrenal gland and is natural to the female body. Surgical menopause (removal of the ovaries) may have a negative effect on sex drive, and testosterone therapy is sometimes prescribed to help.

Testosterone is not U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for the treatment of low libido, however, and we don't know what doses are appropriate for women. Too much testosterone may not help with sexual desire but may, instead, make you feel agitated, overly aggressive and/or depressed. Higher doses can cause masculinizing side effects, such as facial and body hair growth, acne, an enlarged clitoris, a lowered voice and muscle weight gain, that may not go away after stopping therapy.

Testosterone may also be associated with adverse heart-related conditions, such as increased risk for atherosclerosis. There are currently no FDA-approved testosterone-alone preparations for women, although it is often prescribed "off-label" for women. There's a specific prescription combination estrogen (esterified estrogens) and testosterone (oral methyltestosterone) pill called Syntest DS that may help combat testosterone deficiency. Do not use Syntest if you have liver disease; a recent history of heart attack, stroke or circulation problems; a hormone-related cancer such as breast or uterine cancer; abnormal vaginal bleeding or if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. It also increases your risk of endometrial hyperplasia, which may lead to cancer of the uterus.

Since the safety of taking testosterone for extended periods has not been established, women should be very cautious when considering this type of hormone treatment. Discuss the risks and benefits with your healthcare professional.
Staness Jonekos
Health Education
When women notice that their sex drive is diminishing; many seek out a prescription from their doctor for a dose of testosterone, thinking it will fix the problem.

Dr. Wendy Klein, co-author of The Menopause Makeover, says, “The use of testosterone to treat a diminished libido is still controversial. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has not approved testosterone therapies for women suffering from a declining libido, but there have been preliminary scientific studies and extensive anecdotal reports that support the use of this therapy for improving the libido.”

A little compounded testosterone gel may be worth considering, but keep in mind that it has not been FDA-approved to treat a declining libido, and long-term safety data is lacking. Women who are on testosterone therapy should be monitored for increased lipids, excessive hair (hirsutism) and acne.