Endocrine aspects of female sexual dysfunction

Susan R. Davis, André T. Guay, Jan L. Shifren, Norman A. Mazer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction. Various endogenous hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, progesterone and prolactin, may influence female sexual function. Aim. To provide recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of women with endocrinologic sexual difficulties. Methods. The Endocrine Aspects of Female Sexual Dysfunction Committee was part of a multidisciplinary International Consultation. It included four experts from two countries and several peer reviewers. Main outcome measure. Expert opinion was based on committee discussion, a comprehensive literature review and evidence-based grading of available publications. Results. The impact of hormones on female sexual function and their etiological roles in dysfunction is complex. Research data are limited as studies have been hampered by lack of precise hormonal assays and validated measures of sexual function in women. Sex steroid insufficiency is associated with urogenital atrophy and may also adversely affect central sexual thought processes. Systemic estrogen/estrogen progestin therapy alleviates climacteric symptoms but there is no evidence that this therapy specifically improves hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal or postmenopausal women. Exogenous testosterone has been shown in small randomized controlled trials (RCT) to improve sexual desire, arousal and sexual satisfaction in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. However, as there is no biochemical measure that clearly identifies who to treat, use of exogenous testosterone should be considered only after other causes of HSDD have been excluded, such as depression, relationship problems and ill health. The clinical assessment of HSDD should include detailed medical, gynecologic, sexual and psychosocial history and physical examination including the external/internal genitalia. Hormonal therapy should be individualized and risks/benefits fully discussed, and all treated women should be carefully followed up and monitored for therapeutic side effects. Conclusions. There is a need for prospective, multi-institutional clinical trials to define safe and effective endocrine treatments for female sexual dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-86
Number of pages5
JournalThe Journal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Dehydroepiandrosteron therapy
  • Endocrine sexual dysfunction
  • Estrogen therapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Progesteron therapy
  • Sexual desire disorder
  • Testosterone therapy

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