Testosterone In Post-Menopausal Women Could Influence Sex Drive, But Only Modestly

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By Rebekah Marcarelli

New research suggests levels of testosterone and other reproductive hormones have an influence on menopausal women’s interest in sex and sexual function.

Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men, but it is present in women in smaller amounts, The Endocrine Society reported. The recent studies suggest this hormone plays a larger role in women after menopause.

“While levels of testosterone and other reproductive hormones were linked to women’s feelings of desire and frequency of masturbation, our large-scale study suggests psychosocial factors influence many aspects of sexual function,” said one of the study’s authors, John F. Randolph, Jr., MD, of the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, MI. “A woman’s emotional well-being and quality of her intimate relationship are tremendously important contributors to sexual health.”

To make their findings the researchers looked at 3,302 women who participated in the decade-long Study of Women’s Health around the Nation (SWAN). The participants were asked about their sex and sexual activity and had their blood drawn to test for testosterone levels and other reproductive hormones including dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS).

The researchers found women who had higher testosterone levels reported feeling more sexual desire and tended to masturbate more often than those with lower levels.

Although this connection was found to exist, the effects of hormone and testosterone levels on women’s libido were found to be relatively subtle. Women who had fewer sad moods and higher levels of relationship satisfaction often reported better sexual function, suggesting  psychosocial factors have more of an influence in this field that hormonal ones.

“Women’s relationships and day-to-day reality are intricately linked to sexual function,” Randolph said. “Our findings suggest menopausal women who are dissatisfied with their sexual function should consider whether these non-hormonal factors are playing a role when discussing treatment with a qualified health care provider.”

The findings were reported in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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