Taking testosterone for low sexual desire
Q: What is the relation between low testosterone levels and sexual desire? I have a level of only 17 out of a possible 65. They say it’s “in the range,” but I have zero desire, and it is causing problems with my relationship with my husband.
A: No one really knows if testosterone is the hormone of sexual desire, but many people think it is. Our ovaries make testosterone, but we just make a lot less of it than men do. Our adrenal glands also make some hormones very similar to testosterone. At menopause, ovarian production of testosterone declines, although later than the decline in estrogen production.
Many gynecologists have recommended testosterone therapy for loss of libido. Some people think it makes women feel better in general. There are many ways to take testosterone. Unfortunately, natural testosterone will not be absorbed from our stomachs, so if you want to take testosterone by mouth, you must take methyl testosterone. There is no good dose of oral methyl testosterone available for women. There are doses of 10 mg available for men. Women need a dose of 1.25 mg, or 2.5 mg per day – so if you want oral testosterone, you need to break up the tablets. Fortunately, there is a women’s dose manufactured combined with estrogen – so if you are taking estrogen replacement therapy and you just want to add some testosterone, ask your caregiver for some Estratest.
The major side effects from any testosterone compounds are masculinizing: facial hair, acne, deepening of the voice. But these rarely happen with the small doses women are prescribed. There is also a slight chance of liver problems – again, very rare with the small doses women use.
Natural testosterone can be used in a cream form. Again, no commercial pharmaceutical company manufactures it, but any compounding pharmacist can make it up readily. You can use anywhere from a ½ – 2% cream, and apply it to the vulvar area – I tell you to apply it there because it may enhance local responsiveness. Some physicians also use testosterone injections.
Of course, all the testosterone in the world will not eliminate conflict in a difficult relationship. But if the one missing element is libido, it can often help.