Levels of testosterone plays a limited role when it comes to driving menopausal women's interest in sex and sexual function, finds a new study.
The study suggested that while testosterone is the main sex hormone in men, women also have small amounts of it. The ovaries naturally produce testosterone.
John F. Randolph, Jr., MD, of the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, MI, said that while levels of testosterone and other reproductive hormones were linked to women's feelings of desire and frequency of masturbation, their large-scale study suggested psychosocial factors influence many aspects of sexual function and a woman's emotional well-being and quality of her intimate relationship were tremendously important contributors to sexual health.
The longitudinal cohort study examined data from 3,302 women who participated in the decade-long Study of Women's Health around the Nation (SWAN) to analyze the relationship between reproductive hormones and sexual function during the menopausal transition.
Researchers found out that women who naturally had higher levels of testosterone reported feeling sexual desire more frequently than women with low levels and women who had high levels of DHEAS - a precursor to testosterone - also tended to feel desire more often than women with low levels.
The study also found that women with higher levels of testosterone masturbated more frequently than women with lower levels of testosterone.
Randolph added that women's relationships and day-to-day reality were intricately linked to sexual function and their findings suggested that menopausal women who were dissatisfied with their sexual function should consider whether these non-hormonal factors were playing a role when discussing treatment with a qualified health care provider.
The study is published in Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.