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Boosting Testosterone Ups Women's Athletic Performance

Authors say findings have implications for classification in international sporting competitions

woman jogging

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 15, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Topical supplemental testosterone increases running performance and lean body mass in young, physically active women, according to a study published online Oct. 15 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Angelica Lindén Hirschberg, M.D., Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues randomly assigned (1:1) 48 healthy, physically active women (aged 18 to 35 years) to either 10 weeks of treatment with 10 mg of testosterone cream daily or placebo. Aerobic performance was measured by running time to exhaustion.

The researchers found that serum levels of testosterone increased from 0.9 nmol/L to 4.3 nmol/L in the group receiving the testosterone cream. Time to exhaustion also increased significantly in the testosterone group (8.5 percent) compared with the placebo group. There were no significant increases in anaerobic performance (measured by the Wingate test) between the groups, nor were there significant changes noted in counter-movement jump, squat jump, or knee extension peak torque. From baseline, the mean change in total lean mass was greater for the testosterone group, as was mean change in lean mass in the lower limbs.

"Our results are therefore of great importance for the ongoing discussion of whether it is fair to allow athletes with naturally high testosterone to compete in the female category without reducing their hormonal concentration to the female range," the authors said in a statement.

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