Australian researchers have identified the hormone DHEAS as a new marker of low libido in women under 45 years challenging current expert opinion that sexual dysfunction is associated with low testosterone levels.
Researchers at the Australian based Jean Hailes Foundation are addressing the complex role of hormones. Their aim is to understand what is normal and whether women may benefit from therapy. In one of the world’s most comprehensive studies into women’s health and hormones researchers looked at 1423 randomly selected women aged 18-75.
Professor Susan Davis, Director of Research at The Foundation is presenting these findings at the Endocrine Society’s 86th Annual Meeting this week and said, “We undertook this study to determine whether women with low libido also had low levels of androgens.
Until now experts have agreed that sexual dysfunction in women was illustrated by low levels of free and total testosterone. However this study has shown low testosterone bears no relationship to low libido in women under 45 years of age.
“We found a strong relationship between the low scores for desire, arousal and responsiveness and low DHEAS levels in women under 45, “ said Professor Davis.
Sexual function is complex and not simply a function of hormone levels. Sexual desire involves an intricate interplay of biological changes such as hormones and psychosocial influences including relationship factors, body image, aging, menopause, social and cultural expectations.
These findings are important because women experiencing self reported low libido but have normal testosterone levels may miss out on the opportunity to access therapy options.
“Although multiple factors contribute to sexual interest we have demonstrated that low DHEAS is more likely in a woman experiencing low sexual desire and arousal than in other women. The findings from this study are absolutely fundamental to developing a sound clinical approach to the assessment of women presenting with low libido, “ concluded Professor Davis.
This new data will be of particular interest in the United States where DHEA has been approved for use and is available over the counter. There is need for further research for safety, efficacy, who may benefit from this treatment and public education.
This study shows it may be worth investigating DHEAS levels of women under 45 reporting symptoms of low libido with reduced quality of life.
The Jean Hailes Foundation is Australia’s leading women’s health organization.