Efficacy of intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) for symptomatic women in the peri- or postmenopausal phase

Maturitas. 2018 Oct;116:79-82. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2018.07.016. Epub 2018 Jul 31.


Objective: There is uncertainty whether treatment with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) decreases menopausal symptoms for women in the peri- or postmenopausal phase. A previous systematic review considering this subject suggested that DHEA may slightly improve sexual function compared with placebo (CS. Scheffers, S. Armstrong, AEP. Cantineau, C. Farquhar, V. Jordan Dehydroepiandrosterone for women in the peri- or postmenopausal phase. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD011066. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD011066.pub2). The purpose of this article is to review recent research investigating whether the use of DHEA, and in particular intravaginal DHEA (Prasterone®), improves sexual function.

Methods: We conducted an online search using Medline OVID for recent articles related to DHEA and menopause. We found 48 relevant publications, out of which 14 papers were original research, all related to the development and licensing of intravaginal DHEA. We critically analysed these 14 articles in relation to sexual function.

Results: All the randomised controlled trials assessed the efficacy of vaginal DHEA in women with vulvovaginal atrophy and showed that sexual dysfunction improved with treatment regardless of the level of dyspareunia at baseline. Treatment with DHEA was found to be superior to placebo and at least as efficacious as vaginal oestrogens in improving symptoms.

Conclusion: Intravaginal DHEA appears to be a safe and effective treatment for menopausal vulvovaginal atrophy and dyspareunia in most women. Further studies are required before it can be recommended for women with a history of thrombosis, cardiovascular disease or hormone-sensitive neoplasms.

Keywords: DHEA; Libido; Menopause; Perimenopause; Vaginal atrophy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravaginal
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Perimenopause
  • Postmenopause
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dehydroepiandrosterone