PHILADELPHIA - Testosterone could be the answer for some women with diminished sexual desire and satisfaction after menopause, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The international study lead by researchers in Australia, Canada, the U.S. and Europe randomly placed 814 postmenopausal women with diminished sexual drives who were not on estrogen therapy into three groups.
One group got a placebo while the other two wore patches with different levels of testosterone - one with 0.3 milligrams of the hormone and the other with half as much.
After 24 weeks, the women on the higher dose tripled the number of satisfying sexual episodes compared with placebo, reporting more than two satisfying sexual episodes in a four-week period. Both groups taking testosterone experienced a significant increase in desire.
The study also reported an increased in adverse events - mostly unwanted hair growth - among those women in the high testosterone dose group. Long-term effects of testosterone, including on breast cancer rates, were unclear after a year.
The researchers concluded that use of 0.3 milligram testosterone patches resulted in clinically meaningful improvement in sexual function.
Several of the study's authors reported receiving consulting fees and grants from Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, which makes a testosterone patch that has not been approved for use in women in the U.S. Three of the study's authors were employees of the company.