Transdermal Testosterone Therapy Improves Selective

Transdermal testosterone therapy improves selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-associated sexual dysfunction in women

A number of studies have investigated whether testosterone therapy improves libido in women. These studies have been conducted in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, but all have excluded women who have depressive symptoms and women using anti-depressant therapy. However, low libido, impaired arousal and inability to reach orgasm are common side effects of anti-depressants, especially the anti-depressants known as SSRIs and SNRIs. So we conducted a study of the effectiveness of testosterone compared with placebo to treat loss of sexual desire in women taking SSRI anti-depressant therapy.

To be eligible for the study the women had to have previously satisfactory sexual function and have developed sexual dysfunction in relation to their anti-depressant treatment.

45 women, aged 35-55 years, taking a stable dose of an SSRI/SNRI, participated in the study over 12 weeks and were randomly allocate to treatment with either a testosterone patch or a placebo patch. The patches were changed twice a week. After 12 weeks, the women treated with the testosterone patch had a significant increase in the number of sexual events that they reported as being satisfactory (recorded in a daily diary). Testosterone therapy was also associated with increased sexual interest and arousal. The testosterone treated women also experienced a reduction in distress associated with sexual dysfunction.

This study provides the first evidence that transdermal testosterone therapy may be a treatment option for women with SSRI/SNRI-associated sexual dysfunction who need to remain on their antidepressant therapy.

The research was presented by Ms Ensieh Fooladi, PhD student in the Women's Health Research program. Ms Fooladi received a Young Investigator Award from the North American Menopause Society and was awarded a Travel Scholarship to attend the meeting in Texas to present her results.