A small study that took place in Italy by researchers at the University of Pisa may be indicating that supplementation with artificial versions of the hormone DHEA (a steroid hormone naturally produced by the body’s adrenal gland and used in the production of sex hormones) may be useful in helping to ease menopausal symptoms and improve the sex function.However, it is important to note that this study was only of 48 women and it was a comparison study of DHEA against two other current treatments, Tibolone and a standard HRT containing Oestrogen as well as a control group receiving no intervention except Vitamin D supplements. All three interventions were shown to improve menopausal symptoms and sexual function over the course of the twelve month trial.
DHEA is not currently licensed for use in the UK and the study was too small to provide anything other than evidence to support the necessity for further, larger studies.
The researchers found that:
- Women receiving DHEA or HRT had a greater average score on the sexual function questionnaire. These DHEA and HRT average scores were greater than the women who received vitamin D. Women taking tibolone also had an increased score, though the difference from baseline was not significant.
- There was no difference in a relationship score in any of the groups.
- Frequency of sex in the past four weeks increased in the women treated with DHEA, HRT and tibolone. The increases in these three groups were comparable. The frequency of having sex was greater in the three hormone groups compared to the vitamin D group.
However, although the women using the three drug interventions did see improvements in their sexual function it is important to note that they had a healthy sexual function when the study commenced and therefore no conclusion can be drawn as to whether such interventions will be helpful to women with more sexual dysfunction.
In conclusion the researchers have stated that those participants who received one year of oral DHEA therapy at a daily dose of 10mg improved their symptoms to a similar extent to women receiving HRT or tibolone.
A. R. Genazzani, N. Pluchino; DHEA therapy in postmenopausal women: the need to move forward beyond the lack of evidence; Climacteric Aug 2010, Vol. 13, No. 4, Pages 314-316: 314-316.
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