Glossary - A

Androgens:

Nineteen carbon sex steroids or hormones, produced primarily by the ovaries and adrenal glands, but also from other organs, such as skin and muscle. There are seven androgens, four of which can be routinely measured during blood testing: dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone. Androgens induce genital and non-genital cells to synthesize specific proteins, such as growth factors and enzymes. These proteins affect genital tissue growth, maintain genital tissue structure, and play a critical role in genital tissue physiology, including engorgement and blood flow changes with sexual stimulation. Androgen-induced proteins also affect sexual desire, bone density, adipose tissue distribution, mood, energy, and wellbeing. In many cases, lack of androgens can be associated with genital atrophy and sexual health problems. See Androgen Therapy

Androgen Therapy:

Off-label (not yet FDA-approved for that use) systemic hormone treatment for women with sexual health issues, who are suspected to have androgen insufficiency syndrome and low levels of “unbound” or calculated free testosterone. Androgen therapy may include dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) treatment and/or testosterone treatment. The typical dose of testosterone is 10% of the recommended dose of testosterone gel that is FDA-approved for treatment of men with hypogonadism. Ideally, the dose of androgens delivered daily to women with sexual health concerns is designed to keep the blood levels of the various androgens in the mid to upper values of the normal range. Blood levels for DHEA and testosterone are typically checked every three months while on therapy, until stable values are achieved.

Data show that women with sexual health concerns, who have androgen insufficiency, significantly improve sexual function using androgen therapy. Potential adverse effects of androgen (DHEA and/or testosterone) therapy include facial hair growth (hirsutism) and acne. There is no evidence that exogenous testosterone increases the risk of endometrial cancer, endometriosis, breast cancer, cardiovascular concerns, sleep apnea or aggressiveness. Issues such as balding, voice deepening, and enlarged clitoris do not result when dosing used for women with sexual health problems is selected as 10% of the usual male dose for hypogonadism. See Androgen Therapy

Anejaculation:

Absence of ejaculation during orgasm.

Anorgasmia:

Inability to achieve an orgasm during conscious sexual activity although nocturnal emission may occur.

Aromatase:

The enzyme that facilitates the conversion of testosterone to estradiol, and androstenedione to estrone. Having an active aromatase enzyme allows women to be treated by testosterone for low testosterone values and receive the benefit of diminished intensity of hot flushes and night sweats (an estrogen effect). As women age, the activity of the aromatase enzyme appears to diminish, so that testosterone conversion to estradiol is reduced. See Medical Androgen Therapy

Arousal:

The feelings and physical signs of sexual desire. Arousal may be sub-classified into three specific categories: subjective, genital, and combined. Subjective sexual arousal consists of feelings of sexual arousal, sexual excitement, and sexual pleasure derived from any type of sexual stimulation. It does not always strongly correlate with genital congestion. Genital sexual arousal consists of vulvar swelling or vaginal lubrication from any type of sexual stimulation, and sexual sensations from caressing genitalia. Combined genital and subjective arousal includes feelings of sexual arousal, sexual excitement, and sexual pleasure from any type of sexual stimulation, as well as genital sexual arousal, such as vulvar swelling or vaginal lubrication.

Atrophy:

Shrinking in size of some part or organ of the body, usually caused by lack of hormone (androgens or estrogens) support, injury or reduced blood flow.

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