Androgen replacement in women: A commentary

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Abstract

There is increasing evidence to suggest that many postmenopausal women experience symptoms alleviated by androgen therapy and that such symptoms may be secondary to androgen deficiency. Affected women complain of fatigue, low libido, and diminished well-being, symptoms easily and frequently attributed to psychosocial and environmental factors. When such symptoms occur in the setting of low circulating bioavailable testosterone, testosterone replacement results in significant improvement in symptomatology and, hence, quality of life for the majority of women. Whether the apparent therapeutic effects of testosterone replacement are mediated by testosterone and its metabolite 5α-dihydrotestosterone or are a consequence of aromatization to estrogen is not known. Despite the paucity of data regarding its effects, inclusion of testosterone in postmenopausal hormone replacement regimens is not uncommon and is likely to become more widespread with the availability of preparations developed specifically for women. Other novel and even more controversial potential indications for androgen therapy in women are currently being evaluated. These include use in women with premature ovarian failure, premenopausal androgen deficiency symptoms, postmenopausal and glucocorticosteroid-related bone loss, alleviation of wasting syndrome secondary to human immunodeficiency virus infection, and management of premenstrual syndrome. The aim of this commentary is to very briefly review the rationale for the use of testosterone in women, create awareness of some of the therapeutic options available in various countries, and stimulate discussion of this important aspect of women's health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1886-1891
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume84
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

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