A happier menopause: Hormone pill could ease hot flushes AND it gives your sex life a boost
Problems: Relief from the menopause could come from a new hormone pill, it is claimed
A hormone pill may help women through the menopause and give their sex lives a boost, claim researchers.
Doctors are calling for tests to determine whether it could eventually become an alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy for menopausal problems.
The call comes after a study showed for the first time that low doses of DHEA, a hormone created in the body, can improve women”s sexual satisfaction.
It can also ease symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats.
Levels of the hormone in the body peak around the age of 25 and extra supplies have to come in the form of tablets, patches or injections used under medical supervision.
Dr John Stevenson, consultant metabolic physician at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London and chairman of the charity Women”s Health Concern, said: “These are interesting findings and we now need a bigger study.
“There is a demand for alternatives to HRT caused by safety fears which have since been overturned.
“But it”s not possible yet to know whether DHEA is as safe as HRT or carries more risks, which is why we need larger trials.”
Italian researchers carried out the latest study with 48 women suffering from menopausal symptoms.
Of these, 12 took only vitamin D and calcium to improve their bone strength because they did not want HRT.
The remaining 36 were split into a group of 12 taking DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), and two others given standard HRT containing oestrogen and progesterone, or the synthetic steroid tibolone, also known as Livial.
The women”s menopausal symptoms and sexual interest and activity were then measured using standard questionnaires.
Could HRT be replaced Researchers think a hormone pill could be an alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy
After 12 months, all women receiving hormone-replacement supplements showed improvements in menopausal symptoms, while those taking vitamin D and calcium did not show any significant improvement.
At the start of the trial, all groups had similar levels of sexual activity. After a year, women taking calcium and vitamin D had a McCoy score – measuring aspects of sexuality likely to be affected by changing sex-hormone levels – of 34.9, while those using DHEA reached 48.6.
The higher score indicates that women on DHEA had a statistically significant elevation in sexual interest and activity. The results for women using HRT were similar.
Sexual activity was also higher with tibolone, but this was not statistically significant, says a report in Climacteric, the journal of the International Menopause Society.
Study leader Professor Andrea Genazzani, of the University of Pisa, 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.”