Low doses of DHEA can help sexual function and menopausal symptoms and may be used as a hormone replacement therapy alternative.
A hormone called DHEA and mostly secreted by the adrenal glands may be able to help women who are going through menopause and could also give them better sex lives, a study found on Tuesday.
Italian researchers writing in the journal of the International Menopause Society, Climacteric, said they had found the first robust evidence that low doses of DHEA can help sexual function and menopausal symptoms, suggesting it may one day become an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
But they stressed that the trial was small, so far larger studies are needed to confirm the results. "We must bear in mind that this is a pilot study with a small sample," Anna Fenton, co-editor of Climacteric, said in commentary on the work. "We can't yet say that this study means that DHEA is a viable alternative to HRT, but ... we should be looking to do larger studies to confirm these initial results."
DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a natural steroid hormone mostly made in the adrenal glands and has a variety of therapeutic uses. HRT, which is a combination of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, is an approved treatment for women going through the menopause, who often experience unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, loss of sex drive, and mood swings.