- Question from Peaches: Is a woman's testosterone level tied to her ability to be aroused? If so, how does one find out what one's levels are and what is normal?
- Answers - Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. Despite all the hype in the news, studies of women at menopause show no relationship between testosterone levels and desire for sex. When women lose desire, the major predicting factors are having pain with sex (because if sex hurts you aren't going to be in the mood for it), having stress in your relationship, and having a lot of stress in your life in general. Even when women have both ovaries removed, although some women report losing desire, about half of women still say that their desire is normal. So hormones aren't always such an easy answer.
- Kara Nakisbendi I don't think there is any one quick fix for low desire. I think it's difficult to really tease out for each individual woman all the factors contributing to her low desire. For that, you find there are many factors as opposed to just one. The question of testosterone is complicated, because we don't know enough what is normal and what range is considered low. That's something they need to figure out. What's interesting about menopausal women who still have their ovaries is that as their estrogen drops, their amount of available testosterone can be more available. So some menopausal women may experience an increase in desire. For the vaginal tissue we can sometimes replace estrogen, but we don't see an improvement in the atrophy until we add testosterone sometimes.
- Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. There is a lot of evidence that high testosterone levels can increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, and that includes both a woman's natural levels of the hormones and increasing levels by giving her replacement testosterone.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Sex, Intimacy, and Breast Cancer featured Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. and Kara Nakisbendi, M.D.answering your questions about sexual side effects of breast cancer and breast cancer treatment, and what you can do about them.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2008.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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