The Benefits and Harms of Systemic Testosterone Therapy in Postmenopausal Women With Normal Adrenal Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
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CONTEXT: The use of T has been suggested to improve women's health during the postmenopausal period. OBJECTIVE: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials to summarize the best available evidence regarding the benefits and harms of systemic T in postmenopausal women with normal adrenal function. METHODS: A comprehensive search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, EBSCO CINAHL, and Scopus was conducted through January 2014. We conducted study selection, data extraction, and appraisal in duplicate. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to pool results. RESULTS: We identified 35 randomized trials (n = 5053) at a moderate risk of bias. T use was associated with statistically significant improvement in various domains of sexual function and personal distress in postmenopausal women, although the majority of the trials did not have specific or contemporary diagnostic criteria for androgen deficiency in women. T use was also associated with a reduction in total cholesterol, triglyceride, and high-density lipoprotein and an increase in low-density lipoprotein and in the incidence of acne and hirsutism. No significant effect was noted on anthropometric measures and bone density. Long-term safety data were sparse, and the quality of such evidence was low. CONCLUSION: Despite the improvement in sexual function associated with T use in postmenopausal women, long-term safety data are lacking.
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