Testosterone in Women: Does it Matter?

Table of Contents

Is there a “testosterone deficiency syndrome”?

Update 10/2020:  A randomized controlled trial was just published in the American Journal of Psychiatry that – at least for now – puts this issue to rest. In this well-designed study of 101 women with depression that had not responded to an antidepressant, transdermal testosterone did nothing. Not for depression, sexual dysfunction, or energy.Dichtel

This page was originally written to present a consensus conference opinion that is available online, as in 2001 this topic was just beginning to come up with some of my patients. Here we are in Dec. 2004 and things are not much clearer, even though a testosterone patch is very nearly available (in the last hurdles at the FDA). And yet there is still no clear set of guidelines for determining which women will benefit from testosterone replacement (except those who have had an ovarectomy), nor exactly how much risk is being taken when it is used.

The most recent consensus conference on this topic was in 2002 at Princeton, published in “Fertil Steril” and often known by that journal title. It is not online. Here is the reference: Bachmann et al.

In case someone comes back looking for it, I’ll leave the previous consensus conference reference:

Women’s Health Conference Report
“Female Androgen Deficiency Syndrome: Definition, Diagnosis, and Classification: An International Consensus Conference.”
Medscape Women’s Health: Release Date: August 14, 2001
(if you haven’t yet, you’ll have to register on Medscape — it’s pretty painless)

We still don’t even have an agreed upon lab test for testosterone levels and their “range of normal” values in women at different ages.Miller

The Jean Hailes Foundation in Australia is another resource on this topic. Here’s a recent review of this topic by two of their researchers: Davison.

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