Has anyone tried using Testosterone for women for low sex drive?
September 1, 2016 9:35 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone tried using Testosterone for women for low sex drive?

I am post menopausal and my sex drive is gone and I don't want to take other hormones because I have breast cancer in my family. A therapist recommended trying Testosterone but when I looked it up it's expensive not FDA approved so a little scary.

The lack of sex is greatly affecting my marriage. I won't say no but he wants me to be into it. We have been married 16 years and in our 60's.

Of course there is more to the story, he has depression issues, gets angry and irritable easy, which doesn't exactly make me want to have sex. His issue is about his relationship with his adult daughter and I just finally got him into therapy because of major depression. I have been in therapy since last November.

Anyone heard of anyone that tried it?
posted by oceanlady to Human Relations (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I would strongly urge you to deal with the other issues in therapy before you pursue this particular hormonal path. Testosterone can increase your desire to have sex, but it's not going to increase your desire to have sex with your husband specifically. That's not how it works.

Going on T also brings a whole host of other body and mental health-related side effects that you don't appear to have considered, not to mention that the gate-keeping around gaining access to testosterone can be intense. How would you gain access ... through extra-legal channels? (Don't answer that.) Or by lying to a series of doctors? (Don't answer that either.)
posted by zebra at 10:34 PM on September 1, 2016 [8 favorites]

The Endocrine Society's Clinical Practice Guideline on Androgen Therapy for Women (pdf).

"Although there is evidence for short-term efficacy of testosterone in selected populations, such as surgically menopausal women, we recommend against the generalized use of testosterone by women because the indications are inadequate and evidence of safety in long-term studies is lacking."

To quote the document on the sexual dysfunction portion:
"Women’s sexual dysfunctions result from the interplay of many personal, interpersonal, contextual, and medical factors. In any one woman, changes in androgens may or may not be relevant. Apparent “dysfunction” frequently results from adaptation to a nonconducive psychosocial milieu, often with no defect in the woman’s physical sexual response system. Four factors have been shown to correlate robustly with women's sexual function/satisfaction: the woman’s mental and emotional health including her sexual self-image; her feelings for her partner both at the time of sexual interaction and in general; her expectations regarding the future of the relationship; and her past sexual experiences." (I removed distracting reference numbering and added italics).

In short, what zebra said.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:01 PM on September 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

From what you've written, I'm not surprised that you're not really feeling like sex. Ymmv but lack interest in sex is usually my canary in the mine that I'm not happy with how things are in the relationship.
posted by Chrysalis at 12:02 AM on September 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

I am currently taking Testosterone, as I am transmasculine. In other words, I want the masculinizing effects of the hormone. (facial hair, deeper voice, etc.) It is powerful stuff!

I can't really talk to the aspects of testosterone in terms of sex drive, as that side effect hasn't kicked in yet for me. However, here are some things to consider:

1. If insurance won't cover it, it can be expensive, particularly if taken in gel form (which is how I take it currently.) I had to petition my insurance company for access to it, and I am taking it for an FDA approved reason, which is to treat Gender Dysphoria with Hormone Replacement Therapy.

2. It's a Schedule III controlled substance. This may cause issues if you try to travel with it.

3. The andro effects are unpredictable - sometimes they kick in quickly, sometimes slowly. When I first started Testosterone, in shot form, I was starting to grow facial hair in three weeks. And I was on a low dose of Testosterone. I don't know the dosage for sexual dysfunction, but if you're body takes to the Testosterone really well? You may get some unwanted side effects. (Ironically enough, my sex drive never increased, and I have a very low sex drive.)

4. Some of those side effects, such as a deepening voice and clitoral growth? Are also permanent.

5. It can wreak havoc with depression and anxiety, if you have those conditions - which is why I had to switch from the shot to the gel version of the hormone.

6. There are shortages of some versions of the hormone.

Just some things to think about.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:02 AM on September 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

Correction - I don't know if it's FDA approved for Gender Dysphoria, but that's my diagnosis, and what my doctor bills to get insurance to pay for it.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:09 AM on September 2, 2016

The response you get on the subject will vary depending on your country. For instance, it is considered perfectly acceptable for post-menopausal women in the UK to receive testosterone supplementation if low libido is causing them problems and HRT does not work: "1.4.8 Consider testosterone[1] supplementation for menopausal women with low sexual desire if HRT alone is not effective." Whereas in the US, they are very anti-testosterone even in this case.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 6:49 AM on September 2, 2016

Just a heads-up that apparently the HRT-breast cancer link has been debunked. I don't know how having breast cancer in your family might relate to this, but in general it seems the risk is nowhere near where it's said to be. So even if you don't want to take T, maybe other hormones might help (I had a hysterectomy last year and only take estrogen and have, ahem, a very healthy libido, YMMV obviously!).
posted by diffuse at 9:46 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thank you! When I meet with my husbands therapist next week as she suggested it, I will be more informed than just checking on the internet sites that go all over from good to bad. From what has been said here so far I definitely don't want to take it!

I found a great water based lubricant called Yes, ordered it from the UK as it isn't sold here, purchased legally through US Amazon. It is the only one that doesn't burn and works great.

My main problem is no desire and it could come from problems in marriage, his depression and anger turning me off, or expectations he has that it will be hot sex and getting angry when it is not. He started looking at a lot of porn about 11 yrs ago and I often wonder if it makes him want that type of sex.
posted by oceanlady at 11:41 AM on September 2, 2016

expectations he has that it will be hot sex and getting angry when it is not

Holy shit, no wonder you have no sex drive. I would NEVER want to have sex if I knew my partner might get angry at me for the sex not being "hot enough". I highly doubt hormones will fix your lack of desire.

Have you ever read Come As You Are by Emily Naboski? It's written for women in exactly your kind of situation — women who have no sexual desire and are seeking some kind of medical solution for what is most likely a problem with the relationship, not a health problem with the woman. I can't recommend this book enough.
posted by a strong female character at 7:07 PM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can second most of spinifex's experience. I am also a trans man and was initially put on a very low dose of testosterone (due to concerns about blood pressure). My sex drive did go way, way up, almost immediately, and over the course of a few months my voice deepened, I grew more body/facial hair, my clitoris enlarged and my breast tissue shrunk. I'm on a higher dose now, but after less than a year on testosterone I completely pass as male. This is not something to casually mess around with. The instructions on my (Androgel) prescription say many times in big bold letters that it is not to be used by women, and the patient should only apply it to areas covered by a shirt (e.g. upper arms) so it doesn't accidentally rub off on a woman.

Therapists are not endocrinologists and in my experience have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to hormones and their various effects on the body.
posted by AFABulous at 4:21 PM on September 8, 2016

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