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Testosterone is not approved by the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating sexual problems in women. At this time, there is no testosterone pill, patch, or cream approved for women in the U.S. Those made for men have too high a dose for women. But your doctor may prescribe testosterone in a compounded formula, which is a medicine made just for you by a pharmacist.
Testosterone is known as a "male" hormone, or
androgen. It also is made in small amounts by a
adrenal glands and
ovaries. A woman's testosterone is highest around age
20 and slowly declines with age.1
Testosterone therapy raises testosterone
levels in the body. But testosterone is only
FDA-approved for use in men.
Methyltestosterone probably does not work in
the body and the brain like natural testosterone does. It does not directly
raise a woman's testosterone levels. And it cannot be measured in the blood
like natural testosterone.
Methyltestosterone. This hormone product is sometimes also prescribed to menopausal
women for improving sexual desire and
Testosterone is an experimental treatment
used to raise a woman's sexual interest, arousal, and satisfaction. Women with
low androgen levels who might benefit from low-dose testosterone therapy
include those who:
Do not take testosterone if you:
Some experts advise against using testosterone therapy for women
who have not reached menopause.2
There is not strong enough evidence to support the use of
testosterone for improving menopausal symptoms.3 But for women who no longer have ovaries (or whose ovaries are not working), testosterone with estrogen therapy has been shown to slightly increase sexual desire.4
In many women, testosterone may have a direct effect on sex drive
and sexual response. Women taking testosterone may have more sexual thoughts,
fantasies, activity, and satisfaction.5
There is no solid link between a woman's high testosterone and high
sex drive, nor between low sex drive and low testosterone. You can have a low
testosterone level in your body and have a normal sex drive or have high
testosterone and very little interest in sex.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference
is not available in all systems.)
Taking testosterone by using a skin patch, gel, or cream does not
seem to affect cholesterol levels, but taking it by mouth does. This is because
hormones taken by mouth are processed through the liver. Hormones taken through the skin are not processed by the liver.6 At this time, there are no
FDA-approved testosterone products for women.
Testosterone treatment for longer than 6 months has not been
studied. Experts do not yet know whether it raises risks of breast cancer,
heart disease, or dangerous blood clots. It may increase these risks, because
some testosterone in the body is made into estrogen. Higher-than-normal
estrogen in the body is linked to these risks.6
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
CitationsBasson R (2008). Women’s sexuality and sexual dysfunction. In RS Gibbs et al., eds., Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 742–758. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2011). Female sexual dysfunction. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 119. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 117(4): 996–1007.Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Menopause and perimenopausal transition. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 673–748. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Drugs for female sexual dysfunction (2010). Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, 52(1353/1354): 100–102.Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Postmenopausal hormone therapy. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 749–857. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Basaria S, Dobs AS (2004). Safety and adverse effects
of androgens: How to counsel patients. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 79(Suppl): S25–S32.
May 14, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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