Hormone Linked to Low Sex Drive in Women

Libido problems associated with reduced DHEA sulphate

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WEDNESDAY, June 16, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Low levels of an adrenal hormone are associated with low levels of sexual desire in women under age 45, according to an Australian study.

The hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) sulphate, is found naturally in the adrenal glands and gonads of both men and women. It can also be produced synthetically.

Researchers from the Jean Hailes Foundation studied 1,423 women between the ages of 18 and 75.

"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," Susan Davis, director of research at the foundation, said in a prepared statement.

"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 DHEA levels in women under 45," Davis said.

Women with low libido but with normal testosterone levels may miss out on treatment, she added.

"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," Davis said.

The research was to be presented in New Orleans at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, which began June 16.

More information

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy has more about female sexual problems.

SOURCE: Jean Hailes Foundation, news release, June 16, 2004

- Robert Preidt

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