Women who find it difficult or cannot reach climax during intercourse are soon be getting help from a male sex hormone. Canadian pharmaceutical company Trimel Pharmacueticals is in the middle of clinical trials for a testosterone-based drug they call Tefina.
In an interview with the Website Medical Daily, lead researcher Susan Davis said, “We have previously shown that for women with low sexual interest, testosterone therapy not only improves sexual desire and arousal, but also enhances a woman’s ability to reach orgasm.” Trefina is in the midst of Phase II clinical trials in Australia, Canada and the United States. The drug is administered nasally and the effects are supposed to last for up to six hours.
While drug companies are obviously excited at a possible cash cow they could dub the “female Viagra,” there has been much debate centered around the true cause of sexual dysfunction in women. While Trimel Pharmaceuticals claims a 60 percent success rate in getting previously non-orgasmic women to reach climax, there are many researchers in the field of sex therapy who say any clinical trials should be weighted on the fact that there are so many variables at play that may be missing. For example, a woman may reach climax while using the drug, but would it have been just as possible if she used extra stimulation with a vibrator during sex? Other factors such as overall health and body issues should be weighed before green lighting the drug to the marketplace.
Detractors of Trefina have good cause to be wary of unleashing a testosterone-based drug for women out onto the global market. Regular readers of this Steroidology are aware of the potential side effects for women who take testosterone. There is potential for abuse and the development of male sexual characteristics, like deepening of the voice, growing facial and body hair, infertility and a host of other medical conditions related to hormonal imbalance.
Trefina isn’t the first testosterone-based drug marketed for women with sexual dysfunction. In 2009, a drug called Intrinsa was introduced to Europe after a lengthy trial by Britain’s National Health Service. Intrinsa is a testosterone patch that boasted it increased sexual satisfaction by 73 percent during clinical trials, compared to 19 percent of women who were given placebos. Intrinsa’s manufacturer Procter & Gamble took the drug before the FDA in 2004 and was rejected due to safety concerns.
It is unclear whether or not Trefina will suffer the same fate as Intrinsa by the FDA, although recent attitudes toward hormone therapies might help its cause. Testosterone therapy for women has been gaining acceptance and momentum among medical circles for over a decade. In Canada, women have been able to get testosterone replacement therapies approved by the government since 2002. In Australia, post-menopausal women can take a testosterone implant drug called Organon that lasts for six months. And in the United States, even renowned medical institutions like the Mayo Clinic have begun speaking in favor of testing testosterone replacement for women – and not just for sexual dysfunction.
In an interview with CNN, Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Dr. Paul Carpenter, M.D. said, “studies show that [testosterone] helps maintain muscle and bone and contributes to sex drive, or libido. There are also quality-of-life issues. If you give testosterone replacement to testosterone-deficient women, they often say they feel better, but they’re not specific as to how.”
Whether or not Trefina is approved by the FDA and makes it into our pharmacies (and our television commercials) as the breakthrough “Viagra-for-women” drug that can turn even the most prudest housewife into a raging cougar in the sack remains to be seen. One thing for sure is that research into testosterone’s many helath benefits for an aging population won’t be restricted to just men.