Researchers led by Professor Andrea Genazzani from of the University of Pisa found that providing low doses of the hormone DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, could be effective in reducing the symptoms of menopause and increase the sexual function among women.
The researchers conducted the study on 48 menopausal women who were divided into four groups of 12. The first group was given vitamin D and calcium to increase their bone strength, the second group took low doses of DHEA while the other two groups underwent hormone replacement therapy involving oestrogen and progesterone, or the synthetic steroid tibolone.
At the end of 12 months, the researchers measured the severity of the symptoms and the women's interest in sex and found that while there was no improvement in the first group that took only vitamin D, the remaining three groups showed similar improvements in both menopausal symptoms and sexual interest.
In the report, which has been published in the journal of the International Menopause Society, Climacteric, Professor Genazanni said, "This is a small study, a proof of concept. What we need to do now is to look at a larger study, to confirm these initial results are valid."