According to the researchers at University of Pisa in Italy, the first evidence that low doses of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, can help sexual function as well as menopausal symptoms was found.

In this study included 48 postmenopausal women who’d experienced troubling symptoms for a year. They were divided into four groups: 12 took vitamin D and calcium to prevent osteoporosis; 12 took a low dose of DHEA; 12 were given standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT) of estrogen plus progesterone; and 12 took tibolone, a synthetic steroid. In this the women’s menopausal symptoms and levels of sexual interest and activity were monitored for a year.

Ultimately in the result, it was proven that women those receiving the hormone replacements showed improvements in menopausal symptoms, but there was no significant improvement among those taking vitamin D and calcium. It was also further showed that women taking DHEA had a statistically significant increase in sexual interest and activity, with similar results for women in the HRT group. Women taking tiboline had higher sexual activity but the increase was not statistically significant.

In the December issue of the journal Climacteric, the findings, were published that indicated the need for larger clinical trials to confirm the benefits of DHEA in women after menopause.

According to the journal co-editor Dr. Anna Fenton she said that this is an interesting result, although we must bear in mind that this is a pilot study with a small sample. Nevertheless, it does indicate that DHEA has potential as a therapy to help women deal with the physical discomfort of the menopause, as well as helping them sexually. She further addressed that they can’t yet say that this study means that DHEA is a viable alternative to HRT, but they mean to say that they should be looking to do larger studies to confirm these initial results.