Thumbs down for new testosterone patch to boost women's sex drive

March 3, 2009

A new testosterone patch, designed to pep up a woman's flagging sex drive after womb and ovary removal, may not work, and its long term safety is not proven, says Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB).

Intrinsa was recently licensed in the UK for the treatment of women, who have gone through the menopause as a result of womb and ovary removal, and who are subsequently experiencing a drop in sex drive.

The condition is referred to as hypoactive sexual desire disorder or HSDD for short.

There is some evidence to suggest that a fall in sex drive after the menopause might be linked to low levels of circulating testosterone.

Intrinsa is prescribed for women with HSDD, who are receiving oestrogen replacement therapy. It delivers a daily dose of testosterone from a patch replaced twice weekly and worn continuously on the lower abdomen.

The key trials on testosterone patches have involved highly selective groups of women - excluding, for example, those with various mental or physical conditions that could affect sex drive, says DTB. And in some trials a diagnosis of HSDD was made on the basis of short, unvalidated questionnaires.

There was also a large placebo response in the studies, with significant numbers of women not treated with the patch reporting improved sex drive, which indicates that low hormone levels might not have been the problem, says DTB.

Furthermore, the improvements were small. And the fact that some of the women were already having sex twice or three times a month before they entered the trials, raises questions about whether they really had a poor sex drive in the first place.

The two key trials reported side effect rates of around 75%, mostly attributable to skin reactions at the sites where the patches had been applied. Other common unwanted side effects, occurring in up to one in 10 women, were acne, excess hair (hirsutism), hair loss (alopecia), breast pain, weight gain, insomnia, voice deepening, and migraine. Some of these may persist.

As the trials for Intrinsa lasted a maximum of six months, the long term safety of the patch is not clear, says DTB.

"The published evidence so far is based on highly selected women and only shows small improvements in sexual parameters and large placebo responses," concludes DTB.

"Also the long term safety of the treatment is unknown. Unwanted side effects are common and not always reversible. For all these reasons, we cannot recommend Intrinsa for use in women with sexual dysfunction," it adds.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Society's excluded people 10 times more likely to die early

Related Stories

Society's excluded people 10 times more likely to die early

November 14, 2017
People excluded from mainstream society in high-income countries have a tenfold increased risk of early death, according to research from UCL, homeless health charity Pathway and an international team of experts.

Eating disorder treatments need to consider social, cultural implications of the illness

November 13, 2017
People in treatment for eating disorders are poorly served when it comes to addressing the cultural aspects of eating problems, according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Throughout our bodies, thousands of genes act differently in men and women

November 1, 2017
Most of us are familiar with the genetic differences between men and women.

Studies in renal hypertension find important immune system differences between sexes

October 27, 2017
Women account for half of all cases of high blood pressure (hypertension) in the U.S., yet the majority of hypertension research focuses on men. A review of more than 80 studies highlights sex differences in hypertension-related ...

First ever state-level primary and secondary syphilis report shows highest cases among MSM

November 2, 2017
Researchers from Emory's Rollins School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the first ever report of state-level rates of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis by race/ethnicity ...

Higher estrogen levels linked to increased alcohol sensitivity in brain's 'reward center'

November 6, 2017
The reward center of the brain is much more attuned to the pleasurable effects of alcohol when estrogen levels are elevated, an effect that may underlie the development of addiction in women, according to a study on mice ...

Recommended for you

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

superhuman
not rated yet Mar 03, 2009
hypoactive sexual desire disorder


Low sex drive after menopause is NOT a disorder it is perfectly normal and expected outcome.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.