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Early Ovarian Failure Also Causes Low Testosterone

Premature ovarian failure associated with reduced testosterone regardless of estrogen therapy

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have 46,XX spontaneous premature ovarian failure have lower levels of serum free testosterone than their non-menopausal counterparts, according to a study published in the November issue of Fertility and Sterility.

Lawrence M. Nelson, M.D., of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues conducted a study of 130 women with 46,XX spontaneous premature ovarian failure and 65 regularly menstruating controls. The controls were sampled during the mid-follicular phase and the prematurely menopausal women were sampled while off any estrogen therapy and again during hormone replacement therapy.

While the controls had a median 3.3 pg/mL serum free testosterone concentration, the prematurely menopausal women had 2.2 pg/mL while off estrogen therapy and 1.9 pg/mL while they were on transdermal estrogen therapy, despite the fact that there was no change in sex hormone-binding globulin levels. Thirteen percent of women on estrogen therapy had serum free testosterone levels below 1.1 pg/mL, which is the lower limit of normal.

"There are important theoretical and practical implications to our findings. The findings beg the question, 'What is truly physiological ovarian sex-hormone therapy in young women with ovarian failure?' Despite the fact that normal ovarian function provides menstruating women with a daily production of approximately 150 μg of testosterone, this hormone currently is not included as one that requires clinical replacement in these young women," the authors conclude.

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