(HealthDay News) — For postmenopausal women with low sexual desire causing distress, testosterone is an effective treatment, with a preference for nonoral administration, according to a review published online in the The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Rakibul M. Islam, PhD, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the literature to assess potential benefits and risks of testosterone for women. Data were included from 46 reports of 36 randomized controlled trials with 8480 participants.

The researchers found that compared with placebo or a comparator, testosterone significantly increased sexual function, including satisfactory sexual event frequency (mean difference, 0.85; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.52 to 1.18), sexual desire (standardized mean difference, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.22 to 0.50), pleasure (mean difference, 6.86; 95% CI, 5.19 to 8.52), arousal (standardized mean difference, 0.28; 95% CI, 0.21 to 0.35), orgasm (standardized mean difference, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.18 to 0.32), responsiveness (standardized mean difference, 0.28; 95% CI, 0.21 to 0.35), and self-image (mean difference, 5.64; 95% CI, 4.03 to 7.26); reductions were seen in sexual concerns (mean difference, 8.99; 95% CI, 6.90 to 11.08) and distress (standardized mean difference, −0.27; 95% CI, −0.36 to −0.17) in postmenopausal women. When testosterone was administered orally, but not when administered nonorally, there was a significant increase in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and reductions in total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides. There was an overall increase in weight with testosterone treatment; no effect was reported on body composition, musculoskeletal variables, or cognitive measures.

“Our comprehensive systematic review provides robust support for a trial of testosterone treatment, using a dose appropriate for women, when clinically indicated in postmenopausal women,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

References

Islam RM, Bell RJ, Green S, et al. Safety and efficacy of testosterone for women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trial data. Lancet. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(19)30189-5 

Nappi RE. Testosterone for women: green light for sex, amber light for health? Lancet. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(19)30251-7