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Androgens in postmenopausal women: a review

Shifren, Jan L. MD1; Davis, Susan R. MBBS, PhD, FRACP, FAHMS2

doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000903
Clinical Corner: Invited Review

There is significant interest in the use of androgen therapy for postmenopausal women. This review provides background on endogenous androgens in women, describes factors that affect circulating androgen concentrations, and examines the relationship between low levels of androgens and sexual problems. Possible effects of androgens in postmenopausal women beyond sexual function also are discussed. Clinical trials of androgen therapy for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder are reviewed, with a discussion of potential risks. A practical approach to using androgens to treat low sexual desire with associated distress is presented, accompanied by an illustrative case.

1The Midlife Women's Health Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

2The Women's Health Research Program, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Address correspondence to: Jan L. Shifren, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Yawkey 10A, Boston, MA 02114. E-mail:

Received 30 December, 2016

Revised 9 March, 2017

Accepted 9 March, 2017

Funding/support: None reported.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: J.L.S. provides consulting related to research for the New England Research Institutes; S.R.D. has been an investigator for Lawley Pharmaceuticals and has received honoraria from Pfizer pharmaceuticals, Besins Healthcare Australia, and Abbot Pharmaceuticals.

© 2017 by The North American Menopause Society.