International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health Clinical Practice Guideline for the Use of Systemic Testosterone for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in Women

Sharon J. Parish, James A. Simon, Susan R. Davis, Annamaria Giraldi, Irwin Goldstein, Sue W. Goldstein, Noel N. Kim, Sheryl A. Kingsberg, Abraham Morgentaler, Rossella E. Nappi, Kwangsung Park, Cynthia A. Stuenkel, Abdulmaged M. Traish, Linda Vignozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To provide a clinical practice guideline for the use of testosterone including identification of patients, laboratory testing, dosing, post-treatment monitoring, and follow-up care in women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). Methods: The International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health appointed a multidisciplinary panel of experts who performed a literature review of original research, meta-analyses, review papers, and consensus guidelines regarding testosterone use in women. Consensus was reached using a modified Delphi method. Outcomes: A clinically useful guideline following a biopsychosocial assessment and treatment approach for the safe and efficacious use of testosterone in women with HSDD was developed including measurement, indications, formulations, prescribing, dosing, monitoring, and follow-up. Results: Although the Global Position Statement endorses testosterone therapy for only postmenopausal women, limited data also support the use in late reproductive age premenopausal women, consistent with the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health Process of Care for the Management of HSDD. Systemic transdermal testosterone is recommended for women with HSDD not primarily related to modifiable factors or comorbidities such as relationship or mental health problems. Current available research supports a moderate therapeutic benefit. Safety data show no serious adverse events with physiologic testosterone use, but long-term safety has not been established. Before initiation of therapy, clinicians should provide an informed consent. Shared decision-making involves a comprehensive discussion of off-label use, as well as benefits and risks. A total testosterone level should not be used to diagnose HSDD, but as a baseline for monitoring. Government-approved transdermal male formulations can be used cautiously with dosing appropriate for women. Patients should be assessed for signs of androgen excess and total testosterone levels monitored to maintain concentrations in the physiologic premenopausal range. Compounded products cannot be recommended because of the lack of efficacy and safety data. Clinical implications: This clinical practice guideline provides standards for safely prescribing testosterone to women with HSDD, including identification of appropriate patients, dosing, and monitoring. Strengths and limitations: This evidence-based guideline builds on a recently published comprehensive meta-analysis and the Global Position Statement endorsed by numerous societies. The limitation is that testosterone therapy is not approved for women by most regulatory agencies, thereby making prescribing and proper dosing challenging. Conclusion: Despite substantial evidence regarding safety, efficacy, and clinical use, access to testosterone therapy for the treatment of HSDD in women remains a significant unmet need.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-550
Number of pages18
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021


  • clinical practice guideline
  • female sexual dysfunction
  • hypoactive sexual desire disorder
  • Systemic testosterone

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