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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.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.