, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 632–638 | Cite as

Effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation on sexual function in premenopausal infertile women

  • Vitaly A. KushnirEmail author
  • Sarah K. Darmon
  • David H. Barad
  • Andrea Weghofer
  • Norbert Gleicher
Original Article



To investigate the effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation on female sexual function in premenopausal infertile women of advanced ages.


This observational study was conducted in an academically affiliated private fertility center. Patients included 87 premenopausal infertile women, 50 of whom completed the study including the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) questionnaires and comprehensive endocrine evaluation before and 4–8 weeks after initiating 25 mg of oral micronized DHEA TID.


Age of patients was 41.1 ± 4.2 years, BMI 24.4 ± 6.1 kg/m2, 86% were married, and 42% were parous. Following supplementation with DHEA, all serum androgen levels increased (each P < 0.0001), while FSH levels decreased by 2.6 ± 4.4 from a baseline of 10.3 ± 5.4 mIU/mL (P = 0.009). The FSFI score for the whole study group increased by 7% (from 27.2 ± 6.9 to 29.2 ± 5.6; P = 0.0166). Domain scores for desire increased by 17% (P = 0.0004) and by 12% for arousal (P = 0.0122); lubrication demonstrated an 8% trend towards improvement (P = 0.0551), while no changes in domain scores for orgasm, satisfaction, or pain were observed. Women in the lowest starting FSFI score quartile (<25.7), experienced a 6.1 ± 8.0 (34%) increase in total FSFI score following DHEA supplementation. Among these women, improvements in domain categories were noted for desire (40%), arousal (46%), lubrication (33%), orgasm (54%), satisfaction (24%), and pain (25%).


This uncontrolled observational study implies that supplementation with DHEA improves sexual function in older premenopausal women with low baseline FSFI scores.


Female sexual function Infertility Hormone status Androgens Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) 



This work was supported by the Foundation for Reproductive Medicine and intramural funds of the Center for Human Reproduction.

Author contributions

V.A.K., D.H.B., and N.G. developed the concept of the study; all authors contributed to data accumulation. S.K.D., A.W., and V.A.K. contributed to data analysis; all authors contributed to data interpretation. V.A.K. wrote the manuscript. All authors contributed to revisions of the manuscript and approved the final submission. V.A.K. had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Availability of data and material

Anonymized patient level data are accessible by contacting Mrs. Jolanta Tapper at

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

N.G. and D.H.B. are co-inventors on several pending and already awarded U.S. patents claiming fertility benefits from androgen supplementation in women with low functional ovarian reserve (LFOR). Both receive royalties from Fertility Nutraceuticals, LLC, in which N.G. also holds shares. Other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics approval

This study received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval (ER11052015-01) on 11/11/2015 from the IRB of the Center for Human Reproduction. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Consent to participate

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vitaly A. Kushnir
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sarah K. Darmon
    • 1
  • David H. Barad
    • 1
    • 3
  • Andrea Weghofer
    • 1
    • 4
  • Norbert Gleicher
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.The Center for Human ReproductionNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  3. 3.Foundation for Reproductive MedicineNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  5. 5.Stem Cell Biology and Molecular Embryology LaboratoryThe Rockefeller UniversityNew YorkUSA

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