June 4, 2001
By Mindy Hung
New York - Dehydroepiandosterone (DHEA) may serve as an effective treatment for women with androgen deficiency syndrome leading to sexual dysfunction, according to a study released at the 96th annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Anaheim, California.
Irwin Goldstein, MD, and colleagues from Boston University School of Medicine administered DHEA to 32 patients. After 6-12 months of receiving 50 mg of DHEA daily, all of the women reported improved scores both on the Female Sexual Function Index and the Sexual Distress Scale.
Use of the adrenal androgen steroid as therapy for sexual dysfunction remains controversial, however, because there is a lack of specific criteria for diagnosis of female androgen deficiency syndrome.
Until now, women with sexual dysfunction and a serum-free testosterone concentration in the lower third of the normal range have been considered for androgen replacement therapy. The syndrome is associated with loss of libido, low motivation, and fatigue, most often occurring in women who have undergone oophorectomy or are postmenopausal.
A lack of objective measures for gauging symptoms such as blunted motivation, however, as well as low assay sensitivity in the lower concentrations of androgen seen in women after iatrogenic menopause have hampered clinicians's abilities to reach consensus on the definition and classification of the syndrome.
In an editorial that appeared on Medscape Women's Health, John Randolph, Jr, MD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Lorraine Dennerstein, AO, MBBS, PhD, of the University of Melbourne, Australia, state that little is known about the relationship of androgens to sexual function, which has led to uncertainty about what to measure.
Long-term risks of
androgen replacement therapy are not known. Dr. Goldstein and colleagues
note that more research is needed to determine whether women with sexual
dysfunction should receive this treatment.
Mindy Hung is an associate editor with Medscape