Although there is no consensus among health authorities about the long-term risks and benefits of taking testosterone, some menopausal women use testosterone to increase their sex drive. Here are some things to consider as you decide if you should take testosterone:
- Estrogen plus testosterone therapy has been linked to increased rates of breast cancer.
- Higher levels of testosterone alone in post-menopausal women has been linked to increased breast cancer risk.
- Consider the effects upon your relationship as you assess the risk to benefit ratio. This is probably a nice way of saying, "How bad does your husband want it?" If your lack of sex drive is putting your marriage on the brink, then you'll have to weigh the possible health consequences against the possible other consequences.
- Do you want a beard? OK, so I'm overstating this just a bit, but one of the side effects of testosterone is the growth of facial hair. Another very common side effect is acne. Less common side effects include a deepening of the voice, mood changes, enlargement of the clitoris, and negative changes in cholesterol levels and liver functioning (though skin patches lessen the likelihood of these side effects).
- Testosterone is a hormone that is in women's bodies in decreasing quantities as they age. Some people are inclined to think that if a hormone was in the body in greater quantities previously, how bad can it be to up the levels now? However, remember that many people used this same kind of fuzzy logic when deciding to use hormone replacement therapy, a medication that contains female hormones (most commonly estrogen plus progesterone). As it turns out, hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, stroke, dementia, hearing loss, and perhaps even asthma. Remember that no long-term studies have been done assessing the effects of regular testosterone therapy on women's overall health.
- Most doctors agree that determining the drive or desire for sexual intimacy in women is usually influenced by a variety of factors. Some physical symptoms associated with increased age and menopause, such as vaginal dryness, can adversely affect sexual desire and function. However, more often than not, the reason for a decrease in a woman's sexual desire is not easy to pinpoint.
- If testosterone therapy is prescribed by your doctor, it may be in the form of a skin patch, cream,
gel, pill or injection, though skin patches are the preferred method.
- Testosterone is not prescribed for women who do not have sufficient estrogen levels.
If a reduced sex drive is interfering with your vision of your golden years, then you might want to consider asking your doctor about testosterone. But make your own health a high priority as you decide if you should take testosterone.