Men are not the only ones supplementing with testosterone

If you watched the U.S. Open or other major sporting events this year, chances are you’ve heard about a condition called low testosterone, or “low T.”

Commercial: Millions of men 45 and older just don’t feel like they used to…are you one of them? Talk to your doctor and go to isitlowT.com to find out more.

As you can guess from commercials like this, there’s a big—some say billion dollar—market for testosterone therapy for men. It’s used to treat low energy and low sex drive. But now women are using it too, for the same reasons.

In fact, more women are asking theirs docs for testosterone prescriptions these days, and the trend has caught the attention of women’s health experts.

GASS: The number of prescriptions of testosterone are rising. There have been some estimates that maybe as much as 25% are being written for women.

Dr. Margery Gass is Executive Director of the North American Menopause Society, headquartered in Mayfield Heights, OH. When her group holds their annual meeting in D.C. this week, testosterone therapy will take center stage during a Friday symposium.

One woman undergoing such a regimen is Patricia Sapp, a Goshen Ohio resident who’s in her sixties. Sapp works on her feet all day as a scrub tech at the Christ Hospital. She says that her energy levels had been plummeting for a while and she wasn’t happy with the way her body was feeling. So she went to an OB-GYN who specializes in hormone therapy, and he tested the testosterone levels in her blood.

SAPP: I mean mine was in the toilet, you know.

Sapp has been on hormone therapy for half a year now and she says that within two weeks of starting on it, she felt drastic changes.

SAPP: It’s given me like a revitalization.

The benefits go beyond better sleep and more energy, she says:

SAPP: Don’t have mood swings, my joints don’t hurt anymore, and I have more of a sex drive.

But experts like the North American Menopause Society’s Dr. Gass caution against use of products like testosterone formulations that have not been FDA approved.

GASS: Women are using testosterone off-label now. We have no data for how safe that is, and that’s concerning.

While testosterone gels and creams have been approved for use for men, there is no approved product for women. Proctor and Gamble tried to market a testosterone patch for women—called Intrinsa—in 2004. While it was approved for use in Europe, the FDA gave it the thumbs down, citing the need for more safety data.

Another company, BioSante Pharmaceuticals, is developing a testosterone gel specifically for women, and they’re hoping to tap into the potential $2 billion dollar market for treating female low libido.

Gass would like women to have full safety and efficacy information available to them, before deciding to try testosterone therapy. LibiGel—the name for the female testosterone therapy under development—is undergoing safety trials right now, and BioSante plans to submit a new drug application to the FDA in 2012.

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