Effect of 1-year, low-dose DHEA therapy on climacteric symptoms and female sexuality

Department of Reproductive Medicine and Child Development, Division of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University of Pisa.
Climacteric (Impact Factor: 2.26). 09/2011; 14(6):661-8. DOI: 10.3109/13697137.2011.579649
Source: PubMed


Sexual desire is affected by endocrine and psychosocial factors. Menopausal hormonal changes are relevant to the causes of sexual dysfunction during reproductive aging.
To evaluate the effects of different types of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) on sexual function, frequency of sexual intercourse, and quality of relationship in early postmenopausal women. We recruited 48 healthy postmenopausal women aged 50-60 years (mean age 54.5 ± 3.3 years). Women with climacteric symptoms were uniformly randomized into three groups receiving either dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA 10 mg) daily, or daily oral estradiol (1 mg) plus dihydrogesterone (5 mg), or daily oral tibolone (2.5 mg) for 12 months. Women who refused hormonal therapy were treated with oral vitamin D (400 IU). Efficacy was evaluated using the McCoy Female Sexuality Questionnaire before treatment and after 12 months. We evaluated the hormonal profile before treatment and after 3, 6 and 12 months.
The groups receiving DHEA or HRT reported a significant improvement in sexual function compared to baseline (p < 0.001 and p < 0.01, respectively) using the McCoy total score. The quality of relationship was similar at baseline and after 3, 6 and 12 months of treatment. There were significant increases in the numbers of episodes of sexual intercourse in the previous 4 weeks in women treated with DHEA, HRT and tibolone in comparison with the baseline value (p < 0.01, p < 0.05, p < 0.01, respectively). No changes in the McCoy score occurred in women receiving vitamin D.
Daily oral DHEA therapy at the dose of 10 mg, HRT and tibolone all provided a significant improvement in comparison with vitamin D in sexual function and in frequency of sexual intercourse in early postmenopausal women.

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Available from: Andrea Riccardo Genazzani, Jan 06, 2014
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    • "Several studies, mostly limited by various methodological shortcomings, have reported on improved sexual function on DHEA treatment (Baulieu et al., 2000; Hackbert and Heiman, 2002; Schmidt et al., 2005; Genazzani et al., 2011). Two recent studies have failed to show an advantage for DHEA treatment on sexual function (Kritz-Silverstein et al., 2008; Panjari et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Data regarding the efficacy of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) are scarce and inconsistent. We aimed to determine possible gender differences in the efficacy of DHEA as a treatment for HDSS. Postmenopausal women (n=27), and men (n=21) with HSDD, were randomized to receive either DHEA 100mg daily or placebo for 6 weeks in a controlled, double blind study. Primary outcome measures were sexual function questionnaires. Hormone serum levels of DHEAS, total and bioavailable testosterone, estradiol, and urine levels of DHEA and androsterone were also measured. Participants on active treatment showed a significant increase in circulating serum levels of DHEAS, while bioavailable testosterone levels increased in women only. In women only, significant interaction effects were observed for sexual arousal (p<0.05), satisfaction (p<0.05), and cognition (trend; p=0.06). For arousal, a significant improvement was observed for the DHEA treated group at 6 weeks (p=0.001). Significant correlations were observed between bioavailable T and sexual cognitions, arousal and orgasm, while DHEAS was correlated with satisfaction. In the men, significant correlations were observed between testosterone and arousal (r=.45), sexual drive (r=.50) and orgasm (r=.55). In women with HSDD, DHEA treatment had a significant beneficial effect on arousal, whereas no efficacy was demonstrated in men, indicating a possible gender difference. This improvement seems to be mediated via DHEA's metabolism to testosterone. Our positive results suggest that the neurosteroid DHEA may be effective as a treatment for women with HSDD if administered at a dose of at least 100mg per day.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · European neuropsychopharmacology: the journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
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    • "How DHEA exerts fertility-promoting effects is still unknown (Casson et al., 2000). It is a mild androgen that gradually declines with advancing female age (Genazzani et al., 2011). Within the ovary, it serves as a precursor for the production of androstenedione, testosterone and, consequently, estrogen (Gleicher et al., 2011a,b, c). "
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    ABSTRACT: For decades androgens have been considered detrimental to follicle maturation. Animal studies now suggest that they are essential for normal folliculogenesis. Especially in women with premature ovarian aging (POA), recent IVF data in humans are supportive. The literature also suggests an association between recently reported ovarian genotypes of the FMR1 gene and ovarian aging patterns. We, therefore, attempted to determine a potential difference in androgen concentrations and androgen interactions in women with POA who do or do not become pregnant while undergoing androgen supplementation, and whether androgen concentrations and pregnancy chances are affected by FMR1 genotypes. We longitudinally assessed androgen metabolism in 91 women with POA, following pre-supplementation with micronized dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) prior to IVF. IVF outcomes were assessed based on androgen levels and ovarian FMR1 genotypes. The mean age of the women was 39.8 ± 4.4 years; the clinical pregnancy rate was 25.3%. Total androgen concentrations were not associated with pregnancy; however, in women with abnormal FMR1 genotypes, but not those with the normal genotype, free testosterone significantly affected clinical pregnancy potential (β = 1.101, SE ± 0.508, P = 0.03). At the start of the IVF cycle, interactions of DHEA with total and free testosterone also significantly affected subsequent pregnancy rates (β = -0.058, SE ± 0.023, P = 0.01 and β = -0.496, SE ± 0.197, P = 0.012). Androgen interactions significantly influence IVF pregnancy rates in women with POA, with the impact of total androgens on cycle outcomes varying according to FMR1 genotypes. These observations suggest that the effectiveness of androgen supplementation in women with POA varies based on FMR1 genotypes, and defines androgen deficiency as a subset of diminished ovarian reserve.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2012 · Human Reproduction
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    ABSTRACT: Female sexual function is highly complex and deeply influenced by hormonal and non-hormonal factors. As sexual dysfunction becomes a common and important problem for women of all ages with related quality of life issues, we need to understand more about the effect of sex steroid hormones in female sexual function. However, there are limited data about the correlation between the value of sex steroid hormones- testosterone, in particular-and female sexual function. In a certain type of female sexual dysfunction (FSD), hypoactive sexual desire disorder, for example, there is evidence that treatment with androgens or with estrogens is effective. To widen the therapeutic options of hormone replacement therapy in FSD, further research is needed as to the benefits and risks of hormonal treatments in both pre- and post-menopausal women. Although important unanswered questions still exist in hormonal treatment of FSD, new therapeutic strategies are being studied and many ongoing clinical trials are expecting favorable results leading to more successful treatment of FSD.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2012
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