The study was double-blinded; neither the investigators nor the participants knew which pill they were taking. Before the study began and at intervals during the study and afterwards, the women received a physical exam and had blood taken to measure, among other things, cholesterol and other blood lipids and hormones. As part of the psychological evaluation, investigators kept track of each woman's mood, level of anxiety or depression, and sense of well-being and sexual health.
While the researchers are still not sure how DHEA works to provide psychological benefits, the evidence from the study was clear: DHEA improved the women's sense of well-being and lessened their depression and anxiety. The women taking DHEA also had more frequent sexual thoughts and fantasies and their sexual interest improved.
The DHEA may work via a direct effect on the nervous system, or because DHEA is converted to androgens (a male sex hormone linked to libido), or both. The benefits, however, were only seen after four months of treatment, not after just one month. The researchers speculate that this may explain why DHEA showed no benefit in healthy subjects who took the supplement for only two weeks in other studies.
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