Professor Susan Davis, Monash University

Post-menopausal women on testosterone therapy showed a significant improvement in verbal learning and memory, offering a promising new avenue of investigation, say researchers.

Led by Professor Susan Davis, Director of the Women’s Health Research Program at Monash University, the research is the first large investigation into the effects of testosterone on cognitive function in post-menopausal women and could provide clues on how to prevent cognitive decline later in life.

In the study of 96 women, participants who applied testosterone gel to their skin over the course of 26 weeks showed a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in verbal learning and memory. 

Testosterone has been implicated as being important for brain function in men and these results indicate that it has a role in optimising learning and memory in women. Dementia is known to be more common in women than men. 

Professor Davis said the results indicated that testosterone played an important role in women’s health. 

“Much of the research on testosterone in women to date has focused on sexual function. But testosterone has widespread effects in women, including, it appears, significant favourable effects on verbal learning and memory,” Professor Davis said. 

“Our findings provide compelling evidence for the conduct of larger clinical studies to further investigate the role of testosterone in cognitive function in women,” she said.

Androgen levels did increase in the cohort on testosterone therapy, but on average, remained in the normal female range. No negative side-effects of the therapy were observed.

The study’s findings were presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting and expo yesterday in San Francisco.

The study was supported by the Judith Jane Mason & Harold Stannett Williams Memorial Foundation and Biosante Pharm USA, which provided the testosterone gel. 

Other dementia news:

Members sought for new Dementia advisory group:

Alzheimer’s Australia is seeking individuals with dementia of all ages to join its new Dementia Advisory Group to advocate for the needs of people with dementia in Australia.

The Alzheimer’s Australia’s Dementia Advisory Group is a new group that will aim to: 

• Determine the priorities of people with dementia. 

• Contribute to policy and advocacy work 

• Promote dialogue between those with dementia and service providers with a view to promoting a better understanding of their social and care needs. 

• Assist in refining and evaluating Alzheimer’s Australia’s national programs.

Communication will be via email and teleconferences and the group may meet face to face one to two times per year. Members of the group may be supported by their partners or carers to participate in meetings.

New members are being sought from around Australia and experience in a similar role is not necessary.

To express your interest or find out more information, please contact Samantha Blake. 

Email: samantha.blake@alzheimers.org.au

Phone: (02) 6278 8909

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