Some women who no longer have orgasms are being offered the chance to be part of a free drug trial which may help improve sexual function.
The international trial, with sites in the US, Canada and four sites in Australia – including Sydney – will determine if a testosterone gel can help boost female sexual arousal, appetite and satisfaction.
While testosterone has been used to treat sexual dysfunction in women previously, this is the first time that it is being administered through a nasal application. The researchers believe this will be more convenient and minimize any chance of side-effects, which can include acne.
“Low testosterone levels may be a contributing factor to the development of problems achieving orgasm in women who have not previously experienced sexual difficulty,” says Dr Terri Foran, lecturer in UNSW Medicine and one of the study investigators.
Testosterone levels gradually decline in women with age. By the time most women are in their 40s, they only have about half the testosterone level they had in their 20s.
“Many women who suffer sexual problems know their problem is real and find that their wellbeing and relationships suffer as a result,” says Dr Foran, who is part of the Barbara Grose Research Unit at UNSW’s School of Women’s and Children’s Health.
Dr Jinzhu Liu, Manager of the Barbara Gross Research Unit, says many women don’t go to their doctor about sexual problems because they are embarrassed they feel like there’s nothing that can be done.
“We hope that this research changes that and women get the help they need,” she says.
If the randomised control trial is successful, the treatment could be available within three to five years.
Healthy women who have not been able to reach orgasm in the last six months, are in a relationship of the same duration or longer, are happy to have sex and are bothered by their lack of orgasm, can be part of the free, three-month trial. Travel costs will be reimbursed.
The trial is also being conducted in Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne.
To discuss participation in the trial, contact Jinzhu Liu on 9382 6621 or go to the Women's Health and Research Institute of Australia website
Media contact: Susi Hamilton, UNSW Media Office +61 2 9385 8920 or +61 422 934 024