London - Giving middle-aged women testosterone could boost their sex drive, research suggests.
Administering the hormone via patches, gels and sprays improved sexual desire and pleasure.
Such non-oral treatments also had fewer side effects than testosterone pills, experts said.
The findings raise hope of a new treatment to restore flagging libido in older, post-menopausal women.
The Australian study involved a review of 36 trials involving 8 500 women, 95 percent of whom had gone through the menopause.
Researchers found the women who had taken testosterone found it easier to become aroused, were more confident and more sexually responsive. After an average of 12 weeks taking the treatments, they reported a significant rise in the frequency they had sex.
Professor Susan Davis from Monash University in Melbourne, said: "Nearly a third of women experience low sexual desire at midlife, with associated distress. Our results suggest it is time to develop testosterone treatment tailored to post-menopausal women rather than treating them with higher concentrations formulated for men."
She added: "Increasing their frequency of a positive sexual experience from never, or occasionally, to once or twice a month can improve self-image and reduce sexual concerns, and may improve overall well-being."
More than 20 years after Viagra revolutionised sex for older men, there is still no female equivalent. A much-vaunted treatment called Flibanserin - dubbed the ‘pink Viagra’ – was launched in the US in 2015 but was deemed a failure after trials.
Testosterone is best known as a male hormone, but is also vital for female health in helping to maintain metabolism, muscle strength and mood. Levels decline naturally over a woman’s lifespan.
Writing in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, the research team behind the new study found testosterone pills increased cholesterol and triglycerides – a type of fat associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Non-oral treatments were not linked to such problems.Daily Mail