Women naturally produce the male sex hormone, which controls sexual desire. However, that desire usually stops when the ovaries are removed.
"About 43 percent of the 14 million women who have had hysterectomies reported sexual dysfunction after their surgeriesÂ…" the study's lead author, Dr. Glenn Braunstein of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told the Associated Press.
Procter & Gamble, which makes a testosterone patch for men experiencing sexual dysfunction, funded Braunstein's study to see whether similar patches would help women.
Researchers studied 57 middle-aged women who experienced some form of sexual dysfunction, including a decrease in desire, arousal, pleasure, or frequency of orgasm and depression.
The women wore testosterone patches for a nine-month period during which doctors noted that many of them showed an increase in their libidos. All of the women had been on hormone replacement therapy for at least a year. The average age was 47.
More than half of the women reported an increase in sexual desire with patches that contained normal and high levels of testosterone. In addition, researchers say the women's estrogen levels remained the same, and they did not experience symptoms of hormonal imbalance such as hot flashes, acne or increased hair growth in unwanted areas.
Until now, only creams and hormone replacement therapy could help return the lost sex drive, many of those causing side-effects like acne, liver abnormalities or moodiness. But more studies will be needed before the patch is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and available to the public.