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Improving a Woman's Love Life

There's new evidence that women may be able to safely improve their love lives--by taking the principal male sex hormone, testosterone.

Studies indicate that a lot of women have problems with their love lives -- a Harvard study involving more than 31,000 women in this month's issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, for example, found that 40 percent of women have sexual problems. Previous studies have suggested that testosterone can boost a woman's libido and help make sex more pleasurable. But most of those studies also involved giving women the hormones estrogen and progestin as well and did not follow women for long periods to see if the treatment was safe.

In the new study, published in today's New England Journal of Medicine, Susan Davis of Monash University in Australia asked 814 postmenopausal women with low sex drives to wear a patch that delivered either one of two doses of testosterone or a placebo for a year.

After six months, the women who were getting the testosterone reported a big improvement in their sex lives. Either dose of testosterone significantly increased the women's sex drive, and those getting the higher doses reported a big increase in the frequency of "satisfying sexual episodes" each month -- from about two a month before the treatment to more than four. They also reported more orgasms and pleasure.

There were some downsides. One third of those getting the high dose of testosterone reported the growth of body hair (compared to 23 percent of those on placebo). And even more worrisome, four women were diagnosed with breast cancer, compared to none of those who recived placebo. Researchers say it's unclear whether that had anything to do with the testosterone.

In an editorial accompanying the study, which was sponsored by testosterone patch maker Proctor & Gamble, Julie Heiman of the Kinsey Institute for Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University said that while the new study provides encouraging new data that testosterone can help women improve their sex lives, more research is needed to make sure it doesn't come at the cost of more breast cancers.

By Rob Stein  |  November 6, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Women's Health  
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In the lead sentence, that would be "principal," not "principle."

Posted by: PaulinMaryland | November 6, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I imagine that attempts at quenching the increased sex drive would be frustrated by the increased hair growth.

Posted by: digit1231 | November 6, 2008 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I imagine that attempts at quenching the increased sex drive would be frustrated by the increased hair growth.

Posted by: digit1231 | November 6, 2008 8:57 AM

No More Bush!!!

Posted by: jezebel3 | November 6, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Why does it seem that all of these studies are for postmenopausal women? Why can't they also study women in the 20-40 range? We have the same issues, but a different set of hormones. I would surely love to find out how to reinvigorate/increase my sexual drive before my husband gets fed up and takes a hike?

Posted by: smc68 | November 6, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Honestly, I think you could increase the sex drive of just about any woman by giving men a patch that enables them to put a little more effort into their sex life. Safer than giving us extra hormones.

I'm not saying hearts and flowers and romance all the time - I'm not that unrealistic. I'm saying that amongst my friends, we think that our boyfriends and husbands fall/fell into a sexual routine very quickly. Because even when sex isn't great for them, it's good (the whole "pizza sex" thing). But bad sex for a woman is bad sex. What's the incentive for us?

It doesn't have to be every time, boys, but how about making an effort occasionally to shake things up and make things different? Or if the wife/girlfriend in your life makes an effort, *ahem* rise to the occasion, as it were, and don't treat it like pizza sex.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | November 6, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

LOL @ Chasmosaur1, typical for a woman to blame someone else for her problems.

Posted by: MLuther | November 6, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure most "post-menopausal" females such as myself will agree especially if they are single...what's the use of improving my sex life given the number of unsuitable males available...probably most marrried females would agree as well.

Posted by: sfcindy415 | November 6, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse


*shrug* How is suggesting that men make an occasional effort to make sure their partners are enjoying themselves any different than these academics/scientists suggesting we indulge in hormone therapy instead? That's blaming blood chemistry, instead of personal chemistry.

My way is less expensive, most likely safer, and results in a more regular instance of "getting squelchy" (to steal a term from "Coupling"). God forbid that happens.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | November 6, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

So one day will all get to have satisfying sex. The only difference is, she'll be hairy and have no breasts. This doesn't sound like advancement in medicine. It looks more like a failure. How much money is wasted on studies that serve no purpose? And people wonder why medical expenses are out of control. I have to answers for you. Studies and pharmaceutical companies.

Posted by: askgees | November 6, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

There are no frigid women, only clumsy and inept men. Why not put that patch on men instead.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | November 6, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

You're all a bunch of lesbians anyway.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | November 6, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

As a man, I agree completely with the women here who are blaming it on their partners. Guys either don't know or don't care how to satisfy their women. This is sad because it's really easy. All you have to do is to focus on her satisfaction before you take care of yourself, listen to what she wants, and be willing to work at giving her pleasure. In particular, "man up" and get used to giving oral sex as well as receiving it. Be a mensch, not a jerk.

But I guess that would just be too much to ask...

Posted by: jerkhoff | November 6, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Testosterone is exchanged between men and women during sexual intercourse without a condom. It would seem that this study is a setback for those who promote the use of condoms. Perhaps they should do a study of the sex drive of women who use condoms versus those who do not.

Posted by: thought4food | November 6, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

jerkhoff. "Guys don't know (please tell us what we all do wrong oh great 'Giver of the Big O') or don't care". Plenty of us know. Plenty of women are too uptight to loosen up enough of enjoy their own bodies. It's up to each of us to understand our own bodies well enough to reach climax. Period. Get a toy. Hire a professional. Dress up in sexy clothes. Go to a strip club. Don't wear any panties for the day. In other words think for yourself. Work with your partner trying to understand the hows and whys. If it's physical then see a health care professional. Jerkhoff. Your the type of guy that has no male friends because you spend all of your time sucking up 'stuck in the 70's feminism'. Sex IS feminism. At it's best!

Posted by: Mitchavery7 | November 6, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute ladies. Post-Menopause has been a real shock. I USED to have a fantastic sex life and drive. My husband is a wonderful guy and we love each other more every day, even after 30+ years. I am just completing a test of testosterone patches. Sadly, I know I got the placebo. I would gladly suffer more body hair, WHATEVER to get back what once enhanced our life together. Sorry - don't talk to me about taking time, "changing up" the atmosphere, etc. When it hits YOU personally, you understand how devastating this is. PARTICULARLY if it has always been one of the positives throughout your married life together! You can bet I'm going to be demanding an Rx from my doctor for testoserone ASAP.

Posted by: DCexpatinDurham | November 6, 2008 9:26 PM | Report abuse

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