Semin Reprod Med. 2006 Apr;24(2):106-14.

Testosterone therapy in premenopausal women.

Kalantaridou SN,Calis KA.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Panepistimiou Avenue, 45110 Ioannina, Greece. Testosterone therapy for postmenopausal women and women with surgical menopause, albeit controversial, is becoming more widespread. However, only limited data are available to support its use in premenopausal women. Androgens have important biological roles in young women, influencing bone and muscle mass, mood and well-being, and libido. Pathophysiological states affecting ovarian and adrenal function or both may result in androgen deficiency in premenopausal women. Young women with hypothalamic amenorrhea, premature ovarian failure, oophorectomy, premenstrual syndrome, acquired immunodeficiency wasting syndrome, adrenal insufficiency, and hypopituitarism may have testosterone deficiency. Young women with loss of libido may also have testosterone deficiency. Medications that may lead to testosterone insufficiency include oral estrogen, oral contraceptives, and corticosteroids. Testosterone deficiency in young women may be underdiagnosed because the symptoms generally are nonspecific and the measurement of total and free testosterone is inaccurate with commonly used techniques. Only a few studies investigating the effects of testosterone therapy have been performed thus far in premenopausal women. Long-term trials evaluating safety and effectiveness of testosterone therapy in premenopausal women are lacking. Common adverse effects include hirsutism and acne, which reverse with discontinuation of treatment. The availability of testosterone regimens specifically designed for women is expected to help maintain testosterone levels within the normal range and clarify whether the apparent beneficial effects of testosterone therapy are physiological or pharmacological.

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