In a day and age where the term “little blue pill” exists in common parlance, I don’t think the medical community pays nearly enough attention to sexual function in women.
Perhaps the subject makes doctors and patients uncomfortable. Or maybe primary care doctors just think it should fall under the purview of the gynecologist.
Whatever the reason, it’s high time things changed.
As doctors, we should be treating the patient as a whole. And that includes a patient’s sexual function. Because let’s face it: Sexuality makes up a huge part of our lives and our health, and it shouldn’t be ignored. That’s why I personally discuss it routinely with all of my patients—and test hormone levels, including testosterone, in every patient that I see.
In fact, I probably write more testosterone prescriptions for women than I do for men. But I have to admit that, for the last couple of years, I’ve given a little less attention to a supplement that I used to recommend often: DHEA.
So, today, let’s revisit the benefits of DHEA, starting with an important reminder from a recent study…
Hormones tell the whole story
DHEA is an important hormone made naturally by the adrenal glands, and it converts to testosterone and estrogen in the body. The problem is, as you get older, the body produces less DHEA and, consequently, fewer hormones.
This is what ultimately leads to many of those familiar symptoms of aging—the most obvious being the ones we associate with menopause.
But as this latest study revealed, menopausal women aren’t the only ones who can benefit from DHEA replacement. In fact, results showed that supplementing with DHEA can offer significant benefits to some premenopausal women with poor sexual function, too.
This research looked at women in their 30s and 40s with infertility. In other words, women who should be in their sexual prime.
All the women completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) questionnaire at both the beginning and end of the eight-week study. Researchers also performed comprehensive hormone evaluations—looking at levels of a range of androgens, including DHEA, DHEA sulfate, total testosterone, and free testosterone.
Not surprisingly, supplementing with 75 mg of oral DHEA once daily increased levels of all of these androgen levels. While levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) dropped—a sign of improved fertility.
Plus, mean FSFI scores increased by 7 percent. And scores for desire, arousal, and lubrication shot up by 17 percent, 12 percent, and 8 percent respectively. (There weren’t any changes in orgasm, satisfaction, or pain during sex.)
Now, these may only look like modest improvements. But there was at least one group of women who actually saw a major boost…
Lower function, better results
In this study, the women who started out with the lowest FSFI scores saw the most dramatic benefit, enjoying a 34 percent increase in sexual function, on average. And for these women, the improvement extended to all areas of sexual functioning:
- Arousal increased by 46 percent
- Desire increased by 40 percent
- Lubrication increased by 33 percent
- Orgasm increased by 54 percent
- Pain scores improved by 25 percent
- Satisfaction increased by 24 percent
Free testosterone also improved more dramatically in women who started the study with the lowest FSFI scores. And as you know, testosterone is responsible for healthy sexual function in both men and women.
Now, this doesn’t mean that DHEA is an effective aphrodisiac. The women who benefited in this study were the women with the lowest measurable sexual function in the first place—not healthy women simply looking to spice things up.
Still, if your sexual dysfunction warrants a mention to your doctor, then it’s safe to say that it is a problem. And for all the heat I’ve gotten over prescribing DHEA throughout my career, it feels pretty darn good to see mainstream medicine finally start to embrace it.
P.S. I’ll continue keeping you up to date about both men and women’s health right here in my Reality Health Check and in my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. So if you haven’t already, consider subscribing today. And, as always, stay tuned!
“DHEA Improves Sexual Function in Some Premenopausal Women.” Medscape Medical News, 10/10/2018. (medscape.com/viewarticle/903241)