Women should not be prescribed testosterone therapy

There is too little evidence to continue prescribing testosterone therapy to female patients.

Women should not be prescribed testosterone therapy
Women should not be prescribed testosterone therapy

HealthDay News -- Healthy female patients should not be diagnosed with testosterone deficiency or prescribed testosterone therapy, according to a clinical practice guideline written by the Endocrine Society. The updated recommendation was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

"Although limited research suggests testosterone therapy in menopausal women may be linked to improved sexual function, there are too many unanswered questions to justify prescribing testosterone therapy to otherwise healthy women," said guideline task force chair Margaret Wierman, MD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, in a press release from the Endocrine Society.

"When we reviewed past studies, we found many women who had low testosterone levels measured by older or new techniques did not exhibit any signs or symptoms of concern. As a result, physicians cannot make a diagnosis of androgen deficiency in women," noted Wierman.

The only time a female patient might be prescribed testosterone therapy is if she is diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). These patients should be prescribed a three- to six-month trial of testosterone therapy to determine if it improves sexual function. Testosterone therapy should not be prescribed to improve sexual function in women who do not have HSDD, said the guideline authors.

Testosterone therapy in women has been linked to changes in cholesterol, as well as acne and excessive growth of hair on locations such as the face, back, and chest. The long-term breast and cardiovascular risks are unknown.

"Currently, there isn't enough evidence that any benefits outweigh the risks to most women. More research is needed to determine the long-term safety of testosterone therapy in postmenopausal women," said Wierman.

References

  1. Weirman M et al. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2014; doi: 10.1210/jc.2014-2260
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