Speaking of better sex: In the wake of last week’s Viagra news, Bloomberg News reports on not one but two products claiming to bring back the old desire: BioSante’s LibiGel, which Newsmix mentioned last month, and a new testosterone patch, since that’s the hormone with the most direct impact on the urge. At Broadsheet, Judy Berman worries about the pharmaceutical industry’s pursuit of this “holy grail”:

Since female sexual dysfunction isn’t as obvious a diagnosis as male erectile dysfunction, will doctors and pharmaceutical companies push the patch and gel on women who may have different medical or psychological issues preventing them from wanting and enjoying sex? Will we discover, too late, that long-term use of testosterone products has unexpected ill effects on women’s health?

But no one disputes that sleep is nice: As you’ve no doubt heard by now,  a new Australian study found that when asked, women still  say HRT improves their quality of life:

“Our results show that hot flushes, night sweats, sleeplessness and joint pains were less common in women on HRT in this age group. Sexuality was also improved,” says Professor Alastair MacLennan, leader of the Australian arm of WISDOM and head of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

“Overall, quality of life measures improved. Even when women did not have hot flushes and were well past menopause, there was a small but measurable improvement in quality of life and a noted improvement in sleep, sexuality and joint pains. HRT users also had more breast tenderness and discharge compared to those on a placebo,” he says.

But Professor Anne Kavanagh, director of the Key Centre for Women’s Health in Society at the University of Melbourne, cautioned Times Online that short-term sympton relief isn’t everything: “The increased risk of serious diseases including breast cancer, coronary heart disease and blood clots with the use of combined oestrogen and progesterone therapy is now well established.” Professor Kavanagh said that the study did not show overall improvements in quality of life or depression. “In fact the study found that quality of life was lower in the women taking hormone therapy in the first few months of commencing treatment.”

Now if only I could fit that list in my bra: “Keeping your breasts healthy as you age is not a one-size-fits-all proposition,”  caution Bari Nan Cohen and Cathy Garrard at More.com. Their handy guide to “Healthy Breasts at 40, 50, and 60″ begins by quoting  Larry Norton, MD, deputy physician-in-chief for breast cancer programs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: The general principles are the same whether you’re in your 40s, 50s, or 60s. But how you apply them shifts over time.” While much in the guide will feel familiar – keep up self-exams, watch your weight and hormone levels — its narrative of those differences is enlightening. And there are some surprises, such as: “Don’t Try to Overdose on Veggies!”

— Chris L.

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