Harvard Women's Health Watch

Study identifies effective testosterone dose for women

Testosterone applied to the skin has been demonstrated to improve sex drive in women. However, there has been uncertainty about the optimal dose—one that works well without unacceptable side effects.

A study in the journal Menopause, published online in August, may fill that void. Researchers in Australia tested both 5-mg and 10-mg doses of a standardized 1% testosterone cream in seven healthy postmenopausal women with imperceptible blood levels of testosterone. They found that applying the 5-mg dose to the upper arm daily for six weeks brought testosterone levels back into the normal premenopausal range, while using the 10-mg dose elevated levels above the premenopausal range. Neither dose was associated with masculinizing side effects.

No form of testosterone is FDA-approved for women in the United States, so physicians often have testosterone patches, gels, or creams prepared at compounding pharmacies for women who want to increase their libido. This study gives them a dosage range to aim for. But it doesn't say anything about the risks or side effects of prolonged testosterone use in women. If you're contemplating using it, proceed with caution.

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