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Researchers have found that testosterone therapy has no bearing on young women's sex drive or desire. In comparison, low levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a chemical that can be turned into testosterone, are associated with decreased sexual desire in women. Despite the body's natural ability to produce DHEA, in recent years it has become a popular OTC supplement.
The study, the findings of which were presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society (June 17, 2004), involved 1432 women between 18 and 75 years of age. The participants were randomly selected from the population in Victoria, Australia, over a 15-month period. Each participant gave a blood sample for hormone testing and completed a sexual function questionnaire on the same day. The researchers focused on women younger than 45 years because they had the broadest range in sex hormone levels.
The results showed that sexual function (ie, desire, arousal, and orgasm) declined with age. A low DHEA level also was tied to low sexual desire and arousal. Testosterone levels, however, were not associated with either of these factors. The researchers also noted that neither DHEA nor testosterone levels were tied to sexual responsiveness, orgasm, or pleasure.