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A Randomized Trial of Oral DHEA Treatment for Sexual Function, Well-Being, and Menopausal Symptoms in Postmenopausal Women with Low Libido

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ABSTRACT Introduction. 

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate DHEAS, which are the most abundant steroids in women, decline with age. We have shown association between low sexual function and low circulating DHEAS levels in women. Aim. 

The aim of this study was to evaluate whether restoration of circulating DHEA levels in postmenopausal women to the levels seen in young individuals improves sexual function. Methods. 

Ninety-three postmenopausal women not using concurrent estrogen therapy were enrolled in a 52-week randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial and received either DHEA 50 mg or placebo (PL) daily. Main Outcome Measures. 

Efficacy was assessed through 26 weeks. The main outcome measures were the change in total satisfying sexual events (SSE) and the change in the Sabbatsberg Sexual Self-Rating Scale (SSS) total score. Secondary measures were the Psychological General Well-Being Questionnaire (PGWB), and the Menopause—Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire (MENQOL). Hormonal levels, adverse events (AEs), serious adverse events (SAEs) and clinical labs were evaluated over 52 weeks. Results. 

Eighty-five participants (91%) were included in the 26-week efficacy analysis. There were no significant differences between the DHEA and PL groups in the change in total SSE per month or the SSS, PGWB, and MENQOL change scores. Overall AE reports and number of withdrawals as a result of AEs were similar in both groups; however more women in the DHEA group experienced androgenic effects of acne and increased hair growth. Conclusions. 

In this study treatment of postmenopausal women with low sexual desire with 50 mg/day DHEA resulted in no significant improvements in sexual function over PL therapy over 26 weeks. Panjari M, Bell RJ, Jane F, Wolfe R, Adams J, Morrow C, and Davis SR. A randomized trial of oral DHEA treatment for sexual function, well-being and menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women with low libido. J Sex Med 2009;6:2579–2590.
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Keywords: Androgen Therapy; Androgens and Menopause Symptoms; DHEA; DHEAS; Sexual Function

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: NH&MRC Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in the Women's Health Program, Department of Medicine, Central and Eastern Clinical School, Monash University, Alfred Hospital, Prahran, Victoria, Australia; 2: Department of Epidemiology, Monash University, Alfred Hospital, Prahran, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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