Clinical review: DHEA replacement for postmenopausal women

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Jun;96(6):1642-53. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-2888. Epub 2011 Mar 16.


Context: It has been proposed that because dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate, DHEAS, are important precursors for estrogen and androgen production, treatment with DHEA is a physiologically based strategy for the alleviation of hormone deficiency symptoms in postmenopausal women. We have summarized the physiology of DHEA in women and reviewed the findings from randomized controlled trials (RCT) of the effects of DHEA therapy in postmenopausal women with normal adrenal function.

Evidence acquisition: We reviewed the medical literature for key papers investigating DHEA physiology and RCT of the use of DHEA in postmenopausal women through November 2010. The focus was on sexual function, well-being, metabolic parameters, and cognition as study endpoints.

Evidence synthesis: Although cross-sectional studies have indicated a link between low DHEA levels and impaired sexual function, well-being, and cognitive performance in postmenopausal women, placebo-controlled RCT do not show benefits of oral DHEA for any of these outcomes or favorable effects on lipids and carbohydrate metabolism.

Conclusions: Taken together, findings from this review of the published literature of studies do not support the use of DHEA in postmenopausal women at this time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / pharmacology
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Postmenopause*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / drug therapy


  • Dehydroepiandrosterone