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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 February, 2005, 11:02 GMT
Spray to boost female sex drive
Spray works for young women
A spray that helps increase women's enjoyment of sex has undergone successful trials.

The spray, developed by Australian company Acrux, contains the male sex hormone testosterone.

It was initially designed with post-menopausal women in mind, but has also been shown to work for young women with a low libido.

Acrux plans to carry out larger trials, and does not expect the spray to come to market for several years.

The spray could make an enormous difference to the quality of many women's lives
Professor Susan Davis
The spray was tested over four months in three doses on 261 women with a low sex drive and low testosterone levels.

Researchers found a statistically significant rise in the number of satisfying experiences at the end of the fourth month for women taking the second highest dose of the spray.

The only apparent side effect was a small increase in body hair among some of the participants. This prompted two women taking the highest dose of the spray to drop out of the study.

The spray delivers testosterone and a substance to ensure the hormone is held in the skin and absorbed over 24 hours - similar to the way sunscreen remains on the skin.

New focus

Lead researcher Professor Susan Davis, of Monash University, Principal investigator, said previous research had focused on postmenopausal women known to have low testosterone levels.

"But many younger women also report having low sexual interest and enjoyment and traditionally," she said.

This should not be seen as a panacea
Dr Geoff Hackett
"This has been explained away as being caused by relationship issues, depression or other life circumstances.

"But now we know for many women the underlying problem is biological.

"If further studies reconfirm the benefits we have seen, the spray could make an enormous difference to the quality of many women's lives.

"This is not just about sex - it's about having a satisfying home and social life, and having happier relationships and communities all round."

US regulators last year refused to approve a stick-on testosterone patch developed by Procter & Gamble to treat low sex drive in post-menopausal women.

An advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration said more data were needed on the patch's long-term safety.

Professor Davis said there was a degree of concern about the concept of treating older women with hormone to achieve levels that were more normal for their younger counterparts.

But she said giving young women testosterone to restore to it to the same levels of as other women of a similar age was a different matter.

Not a panacea

Dr Geoff Hackett, of the British Society for Sexual Medicine, said it was important that the spray was only given to women who had been thoroughly assessed, and shown to have low testosterone.

He told the BBC News website "This should not be seen as a panacea. Low female sex drive is a much more complex thing than men not getting an erection, which in 90% of cases is due to organic disease.

"If a woman takes this spray when her low libido is not due to low testosterone levels then it could cause even more problems for her relationship."

Dr Hackett also warned that raising testosterone levels too high was linked to side effects such as beard growth, hair loss, greasy skin and acne.

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