Wednesday Bubble: two thumbs down!

Posted by on Mar 4, 2009 in sexual desire, sexual health | 2 comments

[photo credit: Kristian Olsen,]

There’s a whole lotta buzz going on around testosterone these days…testosterone patches, that is.

The March online edition of the British Medical Journal’s Drug Therapeutics Bulletin has given two thumbs down to Intrinsa, a testosterone patch developed to boost sex drive in women with hypoactive sexual disorder (i.e.  who enter menopause due to removal of their wombs and ovaries).  Interestingly, the US Food and Drug Administration had enough questions about Intrinsa to refuse marketing approval. However, the European Union gave it’s safety approval rating in 2006, paving the way for launch in the UK last March.

So, what are the concerns?

According to the article’s authors, testosterone patches should not be recommended to address low sex drive in women. Although research has indicated a slight increase in sexual desire/drive  among women using the patch, the patches have primarily been tested in a small group of women who are taking HRT and not in other populations. What’s more, questions have been raised about study methodology; e.g. diagnosis was made on short, unvalidated questionnaires and some participants were already having sex regularly at the time they entered the trial, which begs the question – where was the improvement?

Concerns have also been raised about the long-term safety of the patches, which researchers say is unknown. Two pivotal trials demonstrated side effects rates in about 75% of women, mostly relating to sites on the body where the patches were applied. But 1% of women also experienced acne, excess hair growth, hair loss, breast pain, weight gain, insomnia, voice deepening and migraine headaches.  Testosterone can also increase cholesterol levels, which potentially prevents their use in women who have an increased risk of heart disease.

Although no firm conclusions have been made, the researchers do say that they “cannot recommend Intriansa for use in women with sexual dysfunction.”

So, the jury’s out. Avoid testosterone patches.  And focus on other methods to improve sexual desire and drive if it becomes problematic as hormone levels drop. Personally, I like Dr. Christina Northrup’s approach to boost nitric oxide levels — natural, empowering, pleasurable!


  1. 3-5-2009

    I also agree with Dr. Northrop’s approach. Additionally, I have found that when my spouse voluntarily does the dishes or picks up his dirty socks from the floor, my libido increases exponentially!

  2. 3-5-2009

    Thanks for this info. Once again the drug companies are totally off track when it comes to treating women’s hormones. You can’t just say low libido=give testosterone. I’ve worked with many women in my compounding practice who have suffered from low libido and have been helped with testosterone supplementation, but only in the context of looking at their entire hormone profile and trying to achieve a BALANCE of the activity of ALL the hormones. Emotional, spiritual and psychological support can also be an important part of the treatment.


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