Vaginal Testosterone for Management of Aromatase Inhibitor-Related Sexual Dysfunction: An Integrative Review

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Abstract

Problem Identification:

Women taking aromatase inhibitors (AIs) as part of the management of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer experience more symptoms of sexual dysfunction, including vaginal atrophy, as opposed to postmenopausal women and women treated with tamoxifen (Nolvadex®). Vaginal testosterone could be an alternative to estrogen, which is contraindicated in this population.

Literature Search:

A systematic review was completed by searching PubMed and Scopus databases.

Data Evaluation:

64 search results were reduced to a final sample of 3 articles after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Synthesis:

Published results suggest that vaginally applied testosterone doses of 150 mcg and 300 mcg improve symptoms of sexual dysfunction in women taking AIs. Minimal side effects are observed, and estradiol levels are not affected by vaginally applied testosterone. Additional research is needed to evaluate vaginal testosterone in women taking AIs.

Conclusions:

Vaginal testosterone shows preliminary promise as an option to manage sexual side effects of AI therapy in postmenopausal cancer survivors; however, available data are too limited to draw practice-changing conclusions.

Implications for Research:

Large-scale randomized, controlled trials need to be completed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of vaginal testosterone in women taking AIs.

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