Testosterone Cream Did Not Boost Libido in Female Cancer Survivors

Lack of effectiveness may have been due to low estrogen levels among women, study finds

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TUESDAY, May 1, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Topical testosterone cream does not boost sexual desire in female cancer survivors, a Mayo Clinic study says.

Decreased libido is a common problem among female cancer survivors. Previous research has suggested an association between testosterone therapy (also called androgen therapy) and increased sex drive in women with adequate estrogen levels, according to background information in the article.

This new study, published in the May 2 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, included 150 postmenopausal cancer survivors who were divided into two groups that received either a testosterone cream or a placebo daily for four weeks. They then switched to the other treatment for another four weeks.

A questionnaire was used to assess the women's sexual desire before the start of the study, and again at four and eight weeks. The study found no statistical difference in libido between the testosterone cream and placebo groups. Women using the cream or placebo all showed some increase in sexual desire, which suggests a placebo effect, the researchers said.

They noted that the testosterone cream's lack of effectiveness may have been due to low estrogen levels among the women in the study.

"If providing supplemental estrogen to women who are postmenopausal is required to obtain a benefit from androgen therapy, then it does not appear that androgen supplementation would be a viable option for women who must avoid (estrogen) replacement," the study authors wrote.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about female cancer patients' sexuality.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, May 1, 2007

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