Testosterone skin patch improves sexual functioning in surgically menopausal women

A multi-institutional research group has found that use of an experimental testosterone skin patch can relieve impaired sexual functioning in surgically menopausal women - that is, women who have had their ovaries removed before natural menopause. The report in the Sept. 7 New England Journal of Medicine comes from a team led by researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Watson Laboratories, Inc.-Utah, a division of Watson Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:WPI), the developers of the patch.

The study was supported by Procter and Gamble Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:PG), which has licensed the marketing rights for the testosterone patch and is currently developing the product in collaboration with Watson Laboratories.

"We know that women who have gone through menopause after surgical removal of their ovaries have decreased testosterone levels," says Jan Shifren, MD, of the MGH Vincent Memorial Obstetrics and Gynecology Service, the paper's lead author. "This study indicates that women who have experienced a loss of sexual functioning after such surgery may benefit from returning their testosterone levels to normal through use of a testosterone skin patch."

Women produce testosterone in their ovaries and adrenal glands and may require sufficient levels of the hormone for proper sexual functioning. About half of a woman's testosterone comes from the ovaries, and as a result women whose ovaries are removed before menopause lose about half their natural testosterone, along with 80 percent of their natural estrogens. Although testosterone is generally considered "the male hormone," it is also an important hormone for women.

While estrogen replacement therapy can relieve symptoms such as hot flashes, vaginal atrophy and osteoporosis in women who have had their ovaries removed, many such women who take estrogen still report a loss of sexual desire, activity and pleasure, as well as

Contact: Susan McGreevey
Massachusetts General Hospital

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