Posted on Jan 11, 2012, 6 a.m.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, helps to alleviate menopausal symptoms.
Dehydroepiandrosterone, better known as DHEA, is the most abundant steroid in the human body involved and is involved in the manufacture of testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and corticosterone. DHEA levels continue to rise up to about age twenty-five, when production drops off sharply: by age 65, the human body makes only 10 to 20% of what it did at age 20. Andrea Genazzani, from the University of Pisa (Italy), and colleagues followed a group of 48 post-menopausal women troubled by symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, loss of sex drive and mood swings. Over a one-year period, 12 women took vitamin D and calcium, 12 took DHEA, 12 took standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and 12 took a synthetic steroid called tibolone (used to alleviate menopausal symptoms). The women's menopausal symptoms, sexual interest and activity were measured using a standard questionnaire. After 12 months, all the women on both DHEA and HRT had improvements in menopausal symptoms, but those taking vitamin D and calcium did not show any significant improvement. At the start of the trial, all groups had similar sexual activity, but after the year, those taking calcium and vitamin D scored an average of 34.9 on the questionnaire scale, while those taking DHEA had a score of 48.6, showing that those on DHEA had more sexual interest and activity. The study authors report that: “Daily oral DHEA therapy … provided a significant improvement in comparison with vitamin D in sexual function and in frequency of sexual intercourse in early postmenopausal women.”
A. R. Genazzani, M. Stomati, V. Valentino, N. Pluchino, E. Potì, E. Casarosa, S. Merlini, A. Giannini, M. Luisi. “Effect of 1-year, low-dose DHEA therapy on climacteric symptoms and female sexuality.” Climacteric, Dec 2011, Vol. 14, No. 6, Pages 661-668.