Understanding the Role of DHEA in Women’s Sexual Health


Hello, I’m Norbert Gleicher, MD. I’m the Medical Director and Chief Scientist here at CHR. I’m very pleased to talk to you today about something completely new not only for us here at CHR, but really for everybody. And that is the use of DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone, a mild male hormone, that we here at CHR have been using for almost 15 years to treat a lot of infertile women with low androgen levels (those are the male hormones). And women have male hormones, just as we men have female hormones. As we have been using DHEA for so many years, we noticed that probably the most frequent side effect patients told us about from the use of DHA supplementation was the fact that they felt more vigorous and had suddenly much better sex drive. This happened to such a degree that sometimes patients refused to stop taking DHEA once they were pregnant and we really had to convince them to do so with the promise that the placenta was a DHEA Factory and would give them that natural DHEA anyhow during pregnancy. So, we basically know, therefore, for quite some time that DHEA appears to have a positive impact on sex drive and libido in general, and maybe on other sexual functions. But, for the longest time, we didn’t pursue it. And then, one day, we did decide to pursue it as a formal study. And we designed the prospective study where using a standard questionnaire that is widely used in sexual medicine by behavioral scientists and by biological scientists, we asked a group of women who had not come to us because of complaints about their sexual desire, but had come to us as regular fertility patients and for that reason were placed on DHEA. We asked those women to participate in a study where we formally evaluated different aspects of their sexual function. The study went this way– before patients started supplementing with DHEA for their fertility problem, we asked them to fill out the standard questionnaire. Then they started taking the DHEA that they would have gotten anyhow for their fertility problem. And after four to six weeks of the DHEA supplementation, we asked them again to answer that questionnaire. It is very important to make the point that these women had not come to us because they were unhappy about their libido or their sex drive. They may have had some problems, but that was not the reason why they were seeking medical care. And, as we actually had foreseen, based on our experience over 15 years with the use of DHEA, once we analyzed the results of the study, we found that in these pre-menopausal women, the use of DHEA significantly improved their sexual satisfaction. Now, as I said, this did not come as a surprise because we had heard anecdotally from our patients so many times that they felt emotionally and sexually much better after using DHEA. But, we now, for the first time, had real scientific evidence that in these women, DHEA really affected their sex life (the quality of their sex life). And the questionnaire allowed us to do the analysis really for all kinds of aspects of sexual satisfaction– from their personal excitement, to how many times they reached orgasms, to even pain experiences that prevented them from enjoying sexual activities. So, this study was very specific in all of these items and the results were fascinating because they demonstrated that the effectiveness of DHEA was directly linked to the level of androgens (male hormones) in those women. The lower their male hormones were, the more effective DHEA supplementation was in improving all aspects of their sexual satisfaction. And in the most severe patients, who, in other words, had the lowest androgen levels when they started, obviously, the change was most dramatic and the statistical significance was really absolutely marvelous. Once we had the results of the study, we filed for a patent application because even though it had been known for quite some time that androgen supplementation Improved sexual behaviors in post-menopausal women, that it also was that effective in pre-menopausal women had really not been reported before. And, this patent is still pending, but we, as an organization, already licensed it to the same company to whom we had licensed the many DHEA patents that CHR was awarded years ago for the use of DHEA in female infertility. And that company actually just launched a DHEA product for pre-menopausal women who are dissatisfied with their sex life. The product is called “VIVO” and we, of course, strongly recommended it. If you have any further questions about the use of DHEA and/or of other androgens in premenopausal ages, come and see us at CHR. We will gladly make appropriate recommendations. Thank you.

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