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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Patch 'boosts women's sex drive'
It will be aimed at women with low testosterone levels
Women may soon be able to use a stick-on patch to boost their sex drive.

The patch is worn on the stomach for two weeks at a time and delivers the hormone testosterone, which has been linked to female sexual desire.

A trial involving 562 women who had had hysterectomies found the patch led to a 74% increase in satisfying sex.

Manufacturers Procter & Gamble are hoping to launch the patch in the US shortly and in the UK within the next two years.

The patch will be aimed at women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) - a lack of sexual desire that causes them distress.

This is exciting news
Professor Alan Riley,
University of Central Lancashire
A recent study suggested as many as one in three women who have had hysterectomies have low sexual desire. One in five said they were distressed about it.

The trial, which was carried out in the US, Canada and Australia, found the patch helped women in a number of ways.

'Many benefits'

As well as boosting the amount of satisfying sex they had, it also increased their desire for sex.

Women who wore the patch were aroused more easily and found it easier to have an orgasm compared to those who used a dummy patch.

The thin transparent patch releases a low, controlled dose of testosterone.

This hormone is produced naturally in a woman's ovaries and adrenal glands.

However, levels drop when women have their ovaries removed. This can lead to a loss of sexual desire.

"We know there is a tremendous medical need to address those suffering with low sexual desire, particularly those women having experienced surgical menopause," said Dr James Simon, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the George Washington University, who led the study.

"We have been waiting a long time for advances in female sexuality research."

Alan Riley, professor of sexual medicine at the University of Central Lancashire, welcomed the trial results.

"As a physician who has been treating menopausal women with sexual difficulties for over 30 years, I know how distressing loss of sexual drive can be for both women and their partners," he said.

"This is exciting news as we have had to treat many of these women with products that have been designed for men.

"An effective and safe therapeutic option for enhancing sexual desire following surgical menopause will fulfil an important medical need.

"We hope we are one step closer to providing an approved treatment."

Blood test

Dr Geoff Hackett, a GP in Derbyshire and a member of the British Society for Sexual Medicine, said the patch will only work for certain groups of women.

"It will only work for women whose lack of interest in sex is caused by lower testosterone levels. Doctors will need to take blood tests to see if this is indeed the case.

"They will have to be sure that any problems with their sex life aren't caused by relationship problems or by other medical problems.

"If a couple doesn't like each other than no patch will improve their sex life."

The findings of the trial were presented at the annual clinical meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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