| Testosterone Fluctuation
Tied to Women's Sex Drive
SEATTLE (Reuters Health)
- A fluctuating level of testosterone
may account for a reduced libido in women in their 30s and 40s,
Previous studies have found links
between lower levels of male hormones such as testosterone and
decreased libido in women, but findings have not been consistent
or conclusive. But now researchers believe that it may have more
to do with the stability of levels, rather than the level itself.
"We compared hormone levels of women
reporting a decline in sexual interest," Dr. Clarisa R. Gracia
of the University of Pennsylvania, the study's lead author, told
Reuters Health. "Women with fluctuating levels of testosterone
reported decreased sexual interest while those with stable levels
Gracia, who presented the findings
here at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's annual
meeting, and her colleagues followed 333 women between the ages
of 35 and 47 for four years. Hormone levels were measured every
six to nine months, and at the end of four years, the women also
completed a questionnaire. Eighty-seven of the study participants
reported a decreased libido, but the researchers found that their
testosterone values were similar to those of women who reported
normal sexual desire.
However, they found that the more
fluctuation or variability there was in testosterone levels, the
more likely women were to report a decrease in sexual desire.
Fluctuation in hormonal levels is
not unusual in this age group, explained Gracia. "As a woman transitions
to menopause, all hormones fluctuate, and this may have to do
with the slow shutdown of the ovaries."
She added that female sexual dysfunction
is a complex disorder, consisting of numerous physiologic and
psychosocial factors. These include depression, the presence of
a child under the age of 18 living at home, marital status, education,
vaginal dryness and alcohol use. But even after accounting for
these factors, the researchers still found an association between
testosterone and a decreased libido.
Traditional hormone replacement therapy,
which is sometimes prescribed to relieve menopause symptoms, does
not contain male hormones. Some women do respond to preparations
containing testosterone, Gracia pointed out, and it may be that
supplementation helps maintain steady levels of the hormone. However,
more research is needed in this area.
As far as using testosterone to treat
low libido in younger women, Gracia says it may be a possibility.
"But that is not part of this study," she said, "And it is just
a hypothesis for right now."
Reference Source 89