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Int J Impot Res. 2004 Apr;16(2):112-20.

Serum androgen levels in healthy premenopausal women with and without sexual dysfunction: Part A. Serum androgen levels in women aged 20-49 years with no complaints of sexual dysfunction.

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  • 1Center for Sexual Function, Lahey Clinic Northshore, One Essex Center Drive, Peabody, MA 01960, USA.


Androgen insufficiency is a recognized cause of sexual dysfunction in men and women. Age-related decrements in adrenal and gonadal androgen levels also occur naturally in both sexes. At present, it is unclear if a woman's low serum androgen level is a reflection of the expected normal age-related decline or indicative of an underlying androgen-deficient state. We studied premenopausal women with no complaints of sexual dysfunction to help define a normal female androgen profile. In all, 60 healthy, normally menstruating women, ages 20-49 y, were studied. The Abbreviated Sexual Function Questionnaire was administered along with a detailed interview. Radioimmunoassay measurements of morning serum testosterone (T), free testosterone (fT), dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEAS), sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and free androgen index (FAI) were measured during days 8-15 of the menstrual cycle. In women 20-49 y old without complaints of sexual dysfunction, serum androgen levels exhibit a progressive stepwise decline. Comparing values obtained in women age 20-29 y to those obtained in women 40-49 y, specific hormone decrements were DHEAS 195.6-140.4 microg/dl, serum T 51.5-33.7 ng/dl, fT 1.51-1.03 pg/ml. SHBG did not change significantly in women in this age group. The FAI reflected the age-related decrease in female androgen levels. The framework for the development of a female androgen profile in women with no complaints of sexual dysfunction has been established, and an age-related decrease in testosterone and its adrenal precursor, DHEAS, has been demonstrated. The FAI mirrors these decreases and its usefulness in clinical practice is confirmed. A precipitous decline in all androgens occurs after the decade of the 20s, yet SHBG does not show a significant change throughout the premenopausal years.

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