fMRI Shows Postmenopausal Response to Hormones

Estradiol, testosterone boost brain activation during visual stimulation

MONDAY, Oct. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women treated with estrogen and testosterone have increased brain response to erotic and neutral visual stimuli compared to when they are not taking hormones, researchers reported during the North American Menopause Society's annual meeting in San Diego.

J.S. Archer, M.D., of the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues used functional MRI (fMRI) to measure brain activation during erotic and neutral visual stimulation.

During a 12-week period, six surgically menopausal women with agonadal levels of estradiol and testosterone viewed erotic and neutral videos while undergoing fMRI scans. Scans were done when the women were taking no hormones, on estrogen therapy (ET), and on ET plus testosterone. The results were compared to results for five premenopausal women the same age.

The researchers found that the postmenopausal women had "significantly decreased" brain response while on no hormone therapy compared to the premenopausal group. Estrogen therapy increased brain activation during both kinds of visual stimulation, while there was a limited increase in limbic system activation during erotic visual stimulation.

"ET and testosterone treatment increased areas of global brain activation but testosterone was more associated with limbic system activation during erotic stimulation," the authors write.

Abstract (P.1)

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