Testosterone Gels and Memory
Using hormones to treat some of the symptoms of menopause typically involves ‘female’ hormones such as oestrogen. But a new experiment that is ongoing will be looking at how testosterone can help with memory in menopausal women.
Improving Learning and Memory During MenopauseFor six months, the study will look at how a testosterone gel can help menopausal women with learning and related memory tasks. In other studies, testosterone showed a positive result in that it helped cognitive function.
In fact, it showed particularly strong benefits in visual and verbal types of learning and memory in menopausal women. They also required less ‘brain energy’ in the sense that they didn’t need as much neuronal recruitment to finish tasks they had to complete.
This new study will pit the testosterone gel against a placebo to scientifically evaluate the effects. If all goes well, it will be another potential treatment to help healthy older women to reduce cognitive decline.
Negative Results from Testosterone GelsIn another study, however, results were quite different. For this experiment, researchers wanted to find out if it could be used in women who experienced menopause from a hysterectomy. After a woman undergoes a hysterectomy, the small amount of testosterone they normally produce stops and it was hoped the gel could help.
In this study, the women who took oestrogen and testosterone after a surgery to remove their ovaries performed more poorly on one particular memory test and the same on others compared to women who just took oestrogen.
There is still much we do not know about how testosterone affects postmenopausal women, especially in terms of cognition. One way to test it out is to have women do both treatments. For this, the women have treatment switched partway through, meaning they received oestrogen and testosterone at one point but then oestrogen and a placebo for the other half.
Side-effects from Testosterone GelsThe oestrogen helped both groups of women improve but it seemed that the testosterone buffered the benefits to some extent. There are also some side-effects to testosterone treatments such as acne and excess facial hair.
Getting a Solid AnswerIt is still possible that testosterone might help women who naturally experience menopause because it’s a gradual change rather than an immediate one as experienced after surgery. It means that researchers are still interested to see the effects in women who experience natural menopause. The first ongoing study mentioned will hopefully shed some light on the results we have so far.
Applying the Testosterone GelThe gel is applied in a very small amount each day to the upper arm. It is quickly absorbed by the skin and then, it sends testosterone to your bloodstream consistently over time. One of the benefits expected is that women will find the application convenient and non-invasive compared to other treatment options.
Using the Gel for Other SymptomsA testosterone gel is currently being tested other studies to see if it can help with sexual dysfunction. It has already been through a couple of phases of clinical trials and if successful, will also be used to improve sexual functioning in menopausal women.
Easing Menopause SymptomsSome women find that as they age and go through menopause, they struggle with memory and learning-related cognitive problems in addition to a range of menopause symptoms. Accessing the right treatment options means we need to continue researching to find new options for women who want to enhance cognition after menopause.
While there are many mentally stimulating activities you can choose to do, for some women they want to use a product that further helps. If the studies are both successful, testosterone gels may not only help memory but also provide sexual functioning benefits as well.