Sex and DHEA
by David Jay Brown
DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a steroid, a type of hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands, aswell as by the brain and skin. It is the most abundant steroid in the human body, and it is therecursor to all adrenal hormones, which start to decline in both men and women ataround the age of 25.
DHEA production declines with age in such a consistent linear fashion that one’s blood level of the hormone is often used as a bio-marker for aging. Since the body converts DHEA into all the other adrenal hormones, when DHEA levels begin to decline, so do the levels of these otherhormones. This includes testosterone and estrogen, which are linked to both sex drive and performance.
William Regelson, M.D., a specialist in medical oncology at the Medical College of Virginia–who was interviewed for this site–claims that by restoring one’s DHEA levels to their youthful equivalent, an aging person can improve their memory, rejuvenate their immune system, increase their overall physical energy, reduce body fat, prevent heart disease, and enhance their libido.
According to Dr. Regelson, taking DHEA supplements can significantly increase sex drive, and he thinks that “just about every adult age forty-five or older can benefit from taking DHEA.” Dr. Regelson said that one of the most constantly repeated comments that he hears from patients, as well as colleagues and friends, who are taking DHEA is that it has renewed their interest in sex. Men in particular report this effect from taking DHEA.
According to the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, which investigated sexual function and activity in men aged 40 to 70, the incidence of impotency increased as DHEA levels declined. Interestingly, many older men not only report an increased sex drive after they begin taking DHEA supplements, but also less of a problem achieving erection. In fact, many older men who have not had morning erections for years report that they suddenly began to experience them after taking DHEA.
DHEA is converted into testosterone, which is known to enhance libido in both men and women. This helps to explain why so many people report heightened sexual desire after they begin taking DHEA supplements. But there may be more to DHEA’s enhancement of sexual desire and performance than simply raising testosterone levels. Because taking DHEA raises the levels of all adrenal hormones, it tends to make people feel more energetic, and enhances feelings of well-being in general. It also tends to improve overall heath, and anything that improves physical health and well-being is likely to reflect positively on one’s sexual health as well.