(HealthDay News) — For postmenopausal women, suppositories containing the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) may reduce vaginal dryness, discomfort, and pain during sex without raising overall estrogen levels, according to research published in Menopause.
“Although this medication is considered ‘hormonal,’ the mechanism appears to be primarily local with minimal side effects beyond vaginal discharge from the suppository,” JoAnn Pinkerton, MD, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, said in a Society news release.
In this phase 3 clinical trial, 325 women who used the DHEA suppository daily saw significant improvements in vaginal dryness after 12 weeks, compared with 157 women using a placebo.
“Its action seems to be entirely within [vaginal] cells, and no significant amount of sex hormone gets released into the circulation,” Dr Pinkerton said. “That means that intravaginal DHEA avoids the raised hormone levels that might stimulate breast tissue or the lining of the uterus, which are concerns for women at risk of estrogen-sensitive cancers, or cancer recurrence, in these organs.”
- Labrie F, Archer DF, Kolton W, et al; for the VVA Prasterone Research Group. Efficacy of intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on moderate to severe dyspareunia and vaginal dryness, symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy, and of the genitourinary syndrome of menopause. Menopause. 2016;doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000000571.