Testosterone is often cast as the manly hormone, the chemical bestower of virility and the reason for men's high sex drives. But new research turns this conventional wisdom on its head. In healthy men, it turns out, testosterone isn't linked to sexual desire at all. And in women, high testosterone is actually associated with less interest in sex with a partner. Complicating the picture further, while high-testosterone women may be less interested in slipping between the sheets with a lover, high testosterone is linked to greater interest in masturbation in healthy women, according to research detailed online in May in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Attention women: Low sex drive? Testosterone won’t help
Modest benefit has been shown from transdermal testosterone therapy given to postmenopausal women with reduced sexual desire. An increased frequency of satisfying sexual encounters and intensity of sexual desire and response has been shown in medically and psychiatrically healthy women able to have 2—3 satisfying sexual experiences each month before therapy commences. Women more clearly sexually dysfunctional in keeping with currently proposed definitions of sexual disorder have not been studied. Numerous factors are known to influence women's sexual desire with mood and feelings towards the partner showing the most robust associations. How to identify women whose low desire might stem from low testosterone activity remains unknown: neither serum levels of testosterone nor its metabolites correlate with desire or function.
Testosterone plays a major role in a woman's sex drive. But when that sex drive is low, replacing the hormone with a testosterone supplement isn't as simple as it sounds. For women, sexual desire, fantasy, being sensitive to sexual touch, and orgasm are all driven in part by natural testosterone.