Decreased efficacy of twice-weekly intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone on vulvovaginal atrophy

Climacteric. 2015;18(4):590-607. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2014.992012. Epub 2015 Mar 3.


Objective: While daily intravaginal administration of 0.50% (6.5 mg) dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA, prasterone) for 12 weeks has shown clinically and statistically significant effects on moderate to severe (MS) dyspareunia as the most bothersome symptom (MBS), the present study analyzes the effect of a reduced dosing regimen on MBS vaginal dryness.

Method: Daily intravaginal 0.50% prasterone for 2 weeks followed by twice weekly for 10 weeks versus placebo.

Results: Maximal beneficial changes in vaginal parabasal and superficial cells and pH were observed at 2 weeks as observed for intravaginal 10 μg estradiol (E2). This was followed by a decrease or lack of efficacy improvement after switching to twice-weekly dosing. The decrease in percentage of parabasal cells, increase in percentage of superficial cells and decrease in vaginal pH were all highly significant (p < 0.0001 to 0.0002 over placebo) at 12 weeks. In parallel, the statistical significance over placebo (p value) on MBS vaginal dryness at 6 weeks was 0.09 followed by an increase to 0.198 at 12 weeks. For MBS dyspareunia, the p value of 0.008 at 6 weeks was followed by a p value of 0.077 at 12 weeks, thus illustrating a decrease of efficacy at the lower dosing regimen. The improvements of vaginal secretions, color, epithelial integrity and epithelial surface thickness were observed at a p value < 0.01 or 0.05 over placebo at 2 weeks, with a similar or loss of statistical difference compared to placebo at later time intervals. No significant adverse event was observed. Vaginal discharge related to the melting of Witepsol was reported in 1.8% of subjects.

Conclusion: The present data show that daily dosing with 0.50% DHEA for 2 weeks followed by twice-weekly dosing is a suboptimal treatment of the symptoms/signs of vulvovaginal atrophy resulting from a substantial loss of the efficacy achieved at daily dosing.

Trial registration: NCT01358760.


Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage*
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • Administration, Intravaginal
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atrophy / complications
  • Atrophy / drug therapy
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / administration & dosage*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Dyspareunia / drug therapy
  • Dyspareunia / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaginal Diseases / complications
  • Vaginal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Vulvar Diseases / complications
  • Vulvar Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone

Associated data