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Testosterone Could Help Women who Underwent Hysterectomies

Update Date: Nov 27, 2013 09:46 AM EST

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus or the womb usually due to diseases, such as cancer. After undergoing this procedure, women experience a decline in their levels of hormones, which include estrogen and testosterone. Due to these reductions, side effects could occur. For example, women might experience sexual dysfunction symptoms, low mood and fatigue. According to a new study, theses symptoms could be alleviated with the help of testosterone. The research team from Brigham and Women's Hospital reported that giving testosterone to women with low testosterone levels due to the hysterectomy could be beneficial.

"Recently, there has been a lot of interest in testosterone treatment in postmenopausal women for sexual dysfunction and other various health conditions. However, no previous studies have evaluated the benefits and negative effects of testosterone replacement over a wide range of doses," explained Grace Huang, MD, a research physician in the hospital's Department of Endocrinology and lead author on this study.

For this study, the research team recruited 71 female participants who had undergone a hysterectomy with or without an oophorectomy. Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of the ovaries. The women were randomly assigned to a placebo or one of four testosterone doses. The doses were administered weekly over the span of 24 weeks. The researchers concluded that the highest dose they administered, which was at 25mg, was the most effective in relieving symptoms of sexual dysfunction, muscle mass and physical performance.

"A primary concern with testosterone therapy is that it can cause symptoms of masculinization among women. These symptoms include unwanted hair growth, acne and lower voice tone. It's important to note that very few of these side effects were seen in our study," Huang said.

Despite the findings from this study, the researchers acknowledged that their study was relatively short. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved testosterone therapy for women due to the lack of long-term data. Without evidence that testosterone therapy is safe, the FDA cannot put people's lives at risk.

The study was published in Menopause.

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