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Testosterone: A Major Breakthrough for Menopausal Women

Testosterone: Finding the Right Balance

Researcher Dr. Barbara Sherwin, a professor of psychology at McGill University, conducted a study on women who had their ovaries removed (ovaries produce nearly half of a woman's testosterone) and found that when given a combination of testosterone and estrogen, these women were more interested in sexual intercourse.

They also experienced more orgasms and greater pleasure. Dr. Sherwin suggests that short-term therapy is sufficient for some women, while others may need longer-term dosages.

Still, some members of the medical community have not embraced androgen therapy for women. Many physicians are reluctant to prescribe androgen because there are relatively few studies on women and testosterone. The long-term effects are unknown.

Critics point out that without long-term studies to support its efficacy and safety, testosterone should be used cautiously, if at all. That's because it can have unfavorable effects on cholesterol levels, primarily decreasing HDL "good" cholesterol. This in turn tends to negate the positive effects of estrogen on the cardiovascular system.

Some also argue that fatigue and low libido can stem from any number of nutritional, medical or psychological conditions. Even androgen's most fervent advocates agree that the hormone should be prescribed on a case-by-case basis to menopausal women who are otherwise healthy. They caution that this therapy is not appropriate for women of childbearing age. Not only do younger women produce sufficient androgen, but also excess levels can cause serious damage to a developing fetus.

The key, agree doctors, is to tailor dosages to the individual needs of women rather than providing a "one size fits all" prescription. This ensures that women can reap the benefits of this therapy without experiencing unwanted side effects such as masculinization, facial hair or acne.