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J Sex Marital Ther. 2002;28 Suppl 1:129-42.

Decreased free testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S) levels in women with decreased libido.

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  • 1Center for Sexual Function, Lahey Clinic Northshore, One Essex Center Drive, Peabody, MA 01960, USA.


A prior study has shown that premenopausal women could have decreased testosterone levels and still have regular menstrual cycles (Guay, 2001). Since ovarian function in such women was normal, the question of a possible adrenal dysfunction causing androgen deficiency was considered. If this was true, the question then arose as to whether the same defect could be seen in postmenopausal women. We studied 105 women who presented during a 6-month period of time with the chief complaint of decreased sexual desire. On subsequent testing, 74 of the women (70%) were found to have decreased total testosterone, free testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S). Thirty-six of these women were premenopausal (ages range 24-50 years), and 38 were postmenopausal (ages range 47-78 years). All androgen levels for the women were lower than age-matched control groups found in the literature. The decreased DHEA-S levels suggest a a defect in adrenal steroidogenesis, which was seen in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Possible defects in regulatory mechanisms of adrenal steroidogenesis are discussed.

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