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Women's health

DHEA : a female viagra?

Researchers have identified DHEA as a major factor in the hormonal deficit underlying menopausal problems. Scientists found that decreased levels of DHEA cause menopausal symptoms, which in the majority of women include vaginal atrophy and sexual dysfunction.

Vaginal atrophy refers to soreness and inflammation caused by thinning and shrinking of vaginal tissues, as well as decreased lubrication. The condition can make intercourse painful and lead to bleeding afterward. Nearly 75 per cent of post-menopausal women - more than 360 million women worldwide - suffer from vaginal atrophy and could benefit from DHEA supplementation. Bringing levels of DHEA higher can help sexual function come back to normal.

Most of drugs designed to treat sexual problems in post-menopausal women rely on hormones such as estrogen and have proven to have serious side effects such as vaginal discomfort or pain, breast pain, vaginitis and itching. DHEA, largely used since the early eighties has shown to be without side-effects.

DHEA appears to be a winner for women. Most of the research has been done in DHEA deficient populations, but data – and real world experience- suggests it’s also a benefit to women not medically deficient in this hormone. Although the benefits of this hormone to women comes predomently from its conversion to testosterone, it also appears some of the effects may be due to other mechanisms. One recent study concluded: “The use of DHEA therapy may also be discussed in women of any age when a trial of androgen supplementation seems justified because of the existence of an inhibited sexual desire or a sexual arousal disorder associated with documented androgen deficiency. The rather weak conversion of DHEA into testosterone protects from the risk of overdosing associated with testosterone preparations.”

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