Supplementation with DHEA: effect on muscle size, strength, quality of life, and lipids

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2005 Jun;14(5):391-400. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2005.14.391.


Objective: To evaluate the effects of combination estrogen/androgen therapy on muscle mass, strength and endurance, serum hormone and lipid profiles, and quality of life measures in postmenopausal women.

Methods: Prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study at a tertiary care medical center. Fifty postmenopausal women were randomized to a 12-week course of (1) dehydroepiandrostenedione (DHEA) 50 mg daily, (2) conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) 0.625 mg daily, (3) DHEA 50 mg+CEE 0.625 mg daily, or (4) placebo. Main outcome measures of lower extremity muscle (calf) mass, functional muscle parameters, serum hormone and lipid levels, and quality of life (QOL) were obtained at baseline and after treatment. Statistical analysis compared percent change from baseline values and treatment differences among outcomes.

Results: Significant increases in mean DHEA, DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S), testosterone, and androstenedione levels were noted with DHEA alone or combined DHEA/CEE treatments when compared with placebo. Compared with no hormone therapy, none of the supplemental hormone groups caused significant changes in muscle mass, muscle strength, muscle endurance, feelings of well-being, sleep, or sexual function.

Conclusions: Androgen replacement therapy, with DHEA, to menopausal women increases serum androgen levels without any appreciable effect on muscle cross-sectional area, muscle strength, muscle function, or improvement in health-related QOL.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Androstenedione / blood
  • Body Composition / drug effects*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / administration & dosage
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / blood
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / pharmacology*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / blood
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP) / administration & dosage
  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP) / blood
  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP) / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP)
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate