Long-term low-dose dehydroepiandrosterone oral supplementation in early and late postmenopausal women modulates endocrine parameters and synthesis of neuroactive steroids

Fertil Steril. 2003 Dec;80(6):1495-501. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2003.06.005.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of a low-dose DHEA supplementation on hormonal parameters in early and late postmenopausal women.

Design: Prospective case study.

Setting: Postmenopausal women in a clinical research environment.

Patient(s): Twenty postmenopausal women were divided in two groups according to age (50-55 and 60-65 years).

Intervention(s): All patients underwent hormonal evaluation before and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of therapy (25 mg/d of DHEA orally). Pelvic ultrasound examination and Kupperman score were performed before and after 3, 6, and 12 months of therapy.

Main outcome measure(s): Plasma DHEA, DHEAS, estrone (E1), E2, P, androstenedione (A), T, dihydrotestosterone, 17alpha-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP), cortisol (F), allopregnanolone, beta-endorphin, sexual hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), LH, FSH, growth hormone (GH), and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) concentrations.

Result(s): The levels of all the steroids that derive from DHEA metabolism increased in plasma with DHEA administration. Also neurosteroids (namely allopregnanolone) and endorphin showed increased plasma levels, whereas both gonadotropins were significantly reduced. Endometrial thickness did not change throughout the study period.

Conclusion(s): Administration of low doses (25 mg) of DHEA positively modulates several endocrine parameters in early and late postmenopausal women, inducing the increase of the androgenic, estrogenic, and progestogenic milieu and reducing the climateric symptoms, similarly to estroprogestin replacement therapy. These data suggest that DHEA supplementation is a more effective replacement therapy than a simple "dietary supplement."

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Androgens / blood*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / administration & dosage
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / blood
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / therapeutic use*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / blood
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Estrogens / blood*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / blood
  • Postmenopause / drug effects
  • Postmenopause / physiology*
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone