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Experts Say Testosterone Rx Not Appropriate for Healthy Women

Benefits unclear, harms unknown, per new Endocrine Society guidelines

Experts Say Testosterone Rx Not Appropriate for Healthy Women

FRIDAY, Oct. 3, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Healthy women should not be diagnosed with testosterone deficiency and should not be prescribed testosterone therapy, a new guideline from the Endocrine Society states. The new clinical practice guideline was published online Oct. 3 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," guideline task force chair Margaret Wierman, M.D., of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, said in a Society news release. "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," said Wierman, who is vice president of clinical science at the Endocrine Society.

The only time a woman might be prescribed testosterone therapy is if she is diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). In such cases, women 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, the experts said.

The guideline authors noted that 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," Wierman said.

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