The effects of dehydroepiandrosterone on sexual function: a systematic review

Climacteric. 2017 Apr;20(2):129-137. doi: 10.1080/13697137.2017.1279141. Epub 2017 Jan 24.


Objective: Faced with the growing interest about the action of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its benefits, as well as the negative impacts that sexual dysfunctions have on people's quality of life, this systematic review was undertaken with the objective of evaluating the effect of DHEA use on aspects of sexual function.

Method: An electronic search was conducted in the databases of PubMed, ISI Web of Science and Virtual Health Library (VHL) combining the terms 'DHEA treatment' and 'DHEA use' with terms such as 'sexual dysfunction', 'sexual frequency' and 'libido'. No limits on time and language were imposed. Clinical studies were considered eligible where individuals for any reason made use of DHEA and if they had any aspect of sexual function assessed. Preclinical studies and systematic reviews were considered ineligible.

Results: The search identified 183 references and 38 were considered eligible. DHEA improved aspects such as sexual interest, lubrication, pain, arousal, orgasm and sexual frequency. Its effect was better in populations with sexual dysfunction, especially in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.

Conclusion: Considering the studies currently published, DHEA is effective in improving several aspects of sexual function, but this effect did not reach all the populations studied.

Keywords: DHEA treatment; DHEA use; Sexual function; sexual dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Libido / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / drug effects
  • Quality of Life
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / drug therapy*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / drug therapy*


  • Dehydroepiandrosterone