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How much testosterone is too much for women during or after menopause?

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Testosterone supplementation for women is a hot topic in the news. A recent pharmacokinetics study, "Pharmacokinetics of a transdermal testosterone cream in healthy postmenopausal women," will be published in the January 2015 print edition of the journal Menopause. (You also can check out the abstract of the research online.) The study focused on a brand of testosterone cream for women approved in Western Australia. For women after menopause, it took 5 mg, the lowest dose of this product, to raise testosterone back to a premenopause level. How much testosterone is too much for women after menopause?

"In the United States we do not yet have an approved testosterone product designed for women," says NAMS Executive Director Margery Gass, MD, according to the June 10, 2014 news release, How much testosterone is too much for women after menopause. "As a result, American women sometimes rely on custom-compounded testosterone prescriptions that may deliver much higher doses than the Australian product and raise women's testosterone to levels higher than normal, potentially producing untoward side effects." According to Dr. Gass, there are no long-term studies of the effects of testosterone treatment on women's overall health.

We do know that too much testosterone in a woman's body may result in excess body hair, acne, male-pattern hair loss, enlarged clitoris, deeper voice, liver damage, unhealthy changes in cholesterol, depression, aggression and more, and the voice changes and clitoral enlargement may be irreversible

Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne and the University of South Australia in Adelaide tested two different doses of the testosterone cream product known as AndroFeme (5 mg and 10 mg doses). After 21 days of daily administration, the 5-mg dose brought postmenopausal women's peak blood levels of total testosterone right into the normal premenopausal range—with a peak slightly above the upper limit of the premenopause normal and 24-hour average to slightly below the limit. The 10-mg dose raised testosterone levels to a higher peak but only somewhat higher than the norm (50%) over 24 hours.

"Since custom-compounded formulations are not FDA approved and are not routinely checked for dose content, it is difficult to know how a given formulation will affect women's testosterone levels. Women should be cautious about what dose of testosterone they are receiving and whether they really need it." advises Dr. Gass, according to the news release. Menopause, is the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

You also may wish to take a look at the abstracts of these other studies, "Transdermal Testosterone Improves Verbal Learning and Memory in Postmenopausal Women Not on Estrogen therapy," and "Risk of stroke in healthy postmenopausal women during and after hormone therapy: a meta-analysis."

The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)

Founded in 1989, The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) is North America's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging.

Its multidisciplinary membership of 2,000 leaders in the field—including clinical and basic science experts from medicine, nursing, sociology, psychology, nutrition, anthropology, epidemiology, pharmacy, and education—makes NAMS uniquely qualified to serve as the definitive resource for health professionals and the public for accurate, unbiased information about menopause and healthy aging. To learn more about NAMS, visit the NAMS website, Menopause.org, or see the website of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

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