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Testosterone Therapy in Women with Gynecological and Sexual Disorders: A Triumph of Clinical Endocrinology from 1938 to 2008

Authors


Abdulmaged M. Traish, MBA, PhD, Boston University School of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry, Boston, MA, USA. Tel: 617-638-4578; Fax: 617-638-5412; E-mail: atraish@bu.edu

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  Although the term “medicalization” has been used by some to describe contemporary testosterone use in women with sexual disorders and testosterone deficiency syndrome, testosterone therapy for women with various gynecological and sexual disorders has been practiced since the late 1930s.

Aim.  The study aimed to perform a historical review of testosterone use in women with sexual and gynecological disorders. This review is necessary to bridge important knowledge gaps in the clinical use of testosterone in women with sexual health concerns and to provoke new thoughts and understanding of the multidisciplinary role of testosterone in women's overall health.

Methods.  Review of medical literature on androgen therapy in women was carried out from 1938 through 2008.

Results.  Approximately 70 years ago, clinicians from various disciplines relied on personal experience and clinical observations for outcome assessment of testosterone therapy in women. These early reports on testosterone use in women with sexual medical problems served as a foundation for the development of contemporary approaches and subsequent testosterone treatment regimens. Testosterone use was reported for sexual dysfunction, abnormal uterine bleeding, dysmenorrhea, menopausal symptoms, chronic mastitis and lactation, and benign and malignant tumors of the breast, uterus, and ovaries.

Conclusions.  Health-care professionals engaged in the management of women's health issues have observed the benefits of androgen therapy throughout much of the 20th century. Despite this clinical use of testosterone in women for more than seven decades, contemporary testosterone therapy in women is hotly debated, misunderstood, and often misrepresented in the medical community. Traish AM, Feeley RJ, and Guay AT. Testosterone therapy in women with gynecological and sexual disorders: A triumph of clinical endocrinology from 1938–2008. J Sex Med 2009;6:334–351.

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