Why DHEA is optimal for vaginal dryness, pain and pelvic health

I recently wrote this very detailed article on why the natural hormone DHEA is a superior treatment option for vaginal atrophy and menopause symptoms in women. I used DHEA when developing my new restorative feminine vulvar cream, Julva, because of its tremendous vaginal health benefits and safety.

I think you will find the article informative…and it may help you immensely.

Please feel free to provide the link to this article to your friends, loved ones and/or patients. Practitioners may link to it in their ezine or blog. However, reposting or reprinting this or any article/blog on DrAnnaCabeca.com requires written permission from the author. Email Team@CabecaHealth.com

Too many women suffer from vaginal dryness, pain and pelvic health issueshormones decline with aging

With aging, menopause, and hormonal changes some 75% of post-menopausal women suffer from vaginal atrophy (1) which can include,

● vulvar-vaginal thinning and irritation
● painful intercourse due to excessive vaginal dryness
● increased vaginal and bladder infections (due to decreased normal flora, loss of lactobacilli and increased pH)
● leaking urine
● increased skin disorders affecting the urogenital tract (vulvodynia, vestibulitis, hypertrophic dystrophy, dermatitis)
● decreased desire, arousal and orgasm
● pelvic prolapse symptoms such as pressure and trouble eliminating

Younger women can experience these symptoms as well.

This article will discuss the vaginal atrophy symptoms women experience and will present a comparison of current treatment options. I will also talk about the use of DHEA; in particular the scientific research and clinical findings that point to its effectiveness and safeness.

Natural aging erodes the health and integrity of the vaginal lining

Before menopause a woman’s ovaries produce many of her sex hormones including estrogen. This female hormone maintains the health and integrity of the vaginal lining. During peri-post menopause, women experience declining hormone levels including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

Women’s ovaries gradually decrease producing these hormones causing vaginal lining shrinkage and drying due to decreased healthy secretions. Muscle loss also occurs. The lining becomes less elastic and thin, causing irritation and discomfort. The ovaries predominantly stop producing estrogen after menopause.

These and the other symptoms women experience from these decreasing hormones are life affecting:


Stress urinary incontinence (SUI), the involuntary leakage of urine, has been estimated to affect over 50% of women incontinencebetween the ages of 20 to 80 years, and was reported at 47% in a younger group consisting of women between 20 and 49 years of age. (2)

Some estimates of women affected are considerably higher; the Mayo Clinic has put their estimate at 85%.

Read more about what causes incontinence here.

Many women increasingly wear protection in the form of pads or incontinence underwear for everyday activities. Even television advertising now includes a number of ads for these products and the adult incontinence category of new products has been booming.

Decreased libido and pain during intercourse; sexual distress and relationship issues

Women may suffer from a decreased libido. The decline in androgens (hormones such as testosterone and DHEA) are particularly associated with diminishing libido.(3)(4)

Increased pain during intercourse, increased post coital infections and the decreased libido associated with vaginal atrophy has also been shown to increase the level of overall sexual distress in women.

Sexual distress has been associated with a higher incidence of depression and relationship conflicts (5)(6) with more than 40% of women in the United States reporting sexual problems.(7)

Yet only 20% to 25% of symptomatic women having vaginal atrophy seek medical treatment!(8)

Lack of reporting symptoms to a doctor can be due to embarrassment, and/or a lack of awareness of vaginal health or treatment options. Women cannot readily examine their vulva or vagina (although you can with a mirror, here’s how), and can’t see the tissue changes that are otherwise easily visible to a physician. A physician can see extreme tissue changes in terms of color (pale or red), dryness, thinning and irritation (red or raw patches).

Women may also mistake their symptoms for common irritations, allergies or infections. More often the changes are so gradual, that the symptoms go unnoticed until there is pain, discharge, or incontinence.

Simple Quiz! Take my Eve Questionnaire to assess where YOUR body is health-wise.

In 2 minutes flat, you’ll get a score (from 0 to 70 – where lower is better) that represents an assessment of your sexual and pelvic health. Once you know your starting number, it’s much easier to improve

40% of our lives living with this misery? Unacceptable!

The current life expectancy for American women is greater than 80 years old (as benchmarked in 2010 census data) and continues to increase. Given the average age of menopause onset is 50.5 years, it is estimated that women may expect to live almost 40% of their entire lives after menopause in this discomfort and decreased quality of life.(9)

Unlike hot flashes which usually end even without treatment, vaginal atrophy symptoms usually increase in severity over time.(10)

Decreasing hormones are also an important clinical health issue beyond vaginal health. Hot flashes, bone loss, fat accumulation, loss of muscle mass and strength(11) , memory loss, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 Diabetes are additional concerns.(12)

Current treatment options are ineffective

Traditional treatment options for vulvar-vaginal atrophy are only partially effective in addressing the many symptoms. Additionally there are known safety risks.

Treatment for vulvar-vaginal irritation and pelvic support issues has been traditionally limited to lubricating creams and OTC options, herbal therapies, estrogen therapies and other prescriptions, Kegel/pelvic-strengthening exercise and surgery.

I will review each of these, and have provided some charts as well. I will be keeping these updated if I find any new information.

Lubricants and vaginal moisturizing creamswoman in bed with partner

While helpful for lubrication these products are primarily cosmetic and do not treat underlying concerns. They may help with irritation and painful intercourse due to reducing dryness.

Water-based lubricants include: K-YJelly, FemGlide, Summer’s Eve and others, and are non-staining. Silicone-based lubricants include Pink, Pure Pleasure and others.
Oil-based lubricants include using mineral oil, petroleum jelly or baby oil. These are not recommended as they can actually cause irritation and have also been associated with high rates of latex condom breakage.
Vaginal moisturizers include Replens, Moist Again, Fresh Start and K-Y Liquibeads.

Natural lubricant solutions

Natural solutions such as organic coconut oil, Ayurveda ghee (combined with herbs) and Yes (an OTC organic lubricant) are also available and do not contain the additional chemicals that can be seen in other commercial lubricant and vaginal moisturizing solutions. These solutions can be enjoyable to use but offer little long-term relief. They offer temporary moisturizing, which may help with some pain during intercourse…but do nothing for pelvic health, incontinence or longer-term healing.

This may help Do It Yourself Lubricant from your Cupboard! Temporary relief from dryness!
Herbal therapies

A number of OTC herbal remedies are available containing black cohosh, soy isoflavones, magnolia bark and other ingredients. Black cohosh has been shown in some studies to address hot flash and night sweat symptoms, but additional studies are needed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reports a concern that many of the early studies were poorly designed and did not evaluate the safety and effectiveness of black cohosh beyond 6 months of use.(13)

In 2003 one study showed that a soy-rich diet was shown to increase the maturation indices of vaginal cells and deemed an effective preventive intervention against menopausal effects and vaginal atrophy, but more research is needed.(14)

Some products available in the market are Estroven and Remifemin.

Soy products may not be appropriate for women having breast cancer. Soy products may contain soy that has been genetically modified. My greatest concern with soy is the majority of our sources are GMO, and have advised only using non gmo fermented soy foods such as miso or tempeh in moderation.

Here is a chart summarizing the above treatment options:

Vaginal atrophy chart 1

Estrogen therapies
Low-dose vaginal estrogen therapy

doctor prescribing estrogenPredominant medical therapy of vaginal dryness and pain has been with vaginal estrogen.

This therapy can be prescribed as vaginal tablets, creams or rings.

These are delivered locally within the vagina and therefore minimize estrogen increases in blood levels along with related possible side effects.

They help improve the thickness and elasticity of the vaginal lining but do not affect the deeper tissue or supporting muscles, nor does research show that they address incontinence issues.

Anecdotal feedback from some women using these products has raised the question as to whether they help certain individuals with incontinence, but research is required to validate this question further.

Manufacturers of these prescription-only products advertise that they help with dryness, pain during intercourse and also painful urination, only.

Rather than just temporarily adding moisture (like the above lubricants) they actually work to reverse the thinning and dryness of vaginal tissue; these effects may help with painful sexual intercourse. These products have not been found to improve libido.

They are prescription-only. Examples include Vagifem, Premarin, Estring and Estrace.

Due to the estrogen content, vaginal estrogen therapy is not recommended for some women. Women with breast cancer or women with a history of stroke or heart attack, blood clots or liver disease should not opt for estrogen replacement therapies.(15) This is another reason to look at androgen hormone solutions such as DHEA versus estrogen.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and vaginal health

Estrogen products, alone or in combination, that raise levels of the hormone throughout the body compounding hormones(systemically), not just in the vagina, are referred to as “hormone replacement therapy (HRT)”. These products address vaginal atrophy and related pain during sex in postmenopausal women as well as addressing other common symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Yes, hot flashes can be brutal but can actually be a time of great spiritual growth… here is an entire article dedicated to improving your hot flashes! You’ll find that there are many things you can to reduce hot flashes, including a Keto-Alkaline® diet and lifestyle…

Despite their benefits on vasomotor symptoms, 40% of women receiving systemic estrogen therapy have persistent vaginal symptoms.(16) Often local estrogen treatment is preferred unless hot flashes are the major issue. Estrogen addresses only the mucosal layer of the vaginal tissue. Research has not shown HRT to be effective in strengthening the deeper musculature of the vagina or surrounding tissue.

Studies have shown controversially that postmenopausal women do not benefit from oral hormone therapy for treatment of urinary incontinence. Some studies conclude that HRT has been associated with worsening urinary incontinence.(17)

HRT, typically not bio-identical including estrogen and progestins (differs from bio-identical progesterone) is not known to address libido although pain during sexual intercourse may be diminished.

HRT therapy has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis.(18)

Hormone replacement therapy prescriptions may contain estrogen alone or may include progestogen (synthetic progesterone) along with estrogen. There are known risks relating to increased risk of blood clots, breast cancer, heart attack and stroke with oral administration.

It is my long-term preference – from clinical and scientific experience and research – that hormone replacement should only be bio-identical and in the lowest effective dose initially to achieve optimal results.

Kegel/pelvic floor strengthening exercises

Kegel exercises strengthen the pubococcygeus muscle and can improve symptoms of incontinence, as well as arousal and orgasm. They can also prevent or improve symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, in which the uterus or bladder bulge into the vagina due predominantly to muscle weakness.

Kegel exercises involve contracting and relaxing the muscles of your pelvic floor, which holds your uterus and bladder above your vagina. See my video on how to do Kegel exercises correctly (many women don’t!).

Pelvic floor health: Kegel exercises

You can also use jade balls/lelo balls/kegel balls to strengthen your muscles.

It is also important to avoid exercises that cause increased pressure to the pelvic floor.

Here is a summary of the estrogen treatment options, as well as the pelvic floor health (Kegels) options:

vaginal atrophy chart 2

Surgical options

Surgical options have traditionally included specific surgeries focused on vulvar rejuvenation as well as those to support pelvic support and incontinence issues. These are currently viewed as two different categories of surgical intervention, one for functional health reasons (incontinence and prolapse) and one viewed primarily as cosmetic.

1. Labiaplasty and vaginoplasty viewed as primarily cosmetic.

Many women view these procedures as important for their self-esteem and sexual satisfaction. However, most incontinence surgerymainstream health organizations still consider them as cosmetic.

The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) released statistics in 2014 that revealed a 49% increase (from 5,070 surgeries to 7.535) in labiaplasty and other genital cosmetic procedures.(19) A detailed review of these procedures can be found here.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have stated in 2007, and reaffirmed in 2014 (20) that,

“So-called “vaginal rejuvenation,” “designer vaginoplasty,” “revirgination,” and “G-spot amplification” are vaginal surgical procedures being offered by some practitioners. These procedures are not medically indicated, and the safety and effectiveness of these procedures have not been documented. Clinicians who receive requests from patients for such procedures should discuss with the patient the reason for her request and perform an evaluation for any physical signs or symptoms that may indicate the need for surgical intervention. Women should be informed about the lack of data supporting the efficacy of these procedures and their potential complications, including infection, altered sensation, dyspareunia, adhesions, and scarring.”

G-spot injection: This is the injection of collagen or Hyaluronic acid injected into the G spot. 87% of recipients in one pilot study reported increased sexual arousal and gratification.(21)

2. Pelvic Support and Incontinence Surgery viewed as addressing functional and urinary incontinence issues.

MonaLisa Touch laser therapy

This vaginal laser treatment was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for aesthetic use in 2014, including approval for gynecologic use.(22)

The laser technology results in tissue regeneration and addresses several symptoms relating to vaginal atrophy. In particular the vaginal mucosa tissue becomes more nourished and hydrated; the epithelium becomes thicker and regains some elasticity. It also reestablishes a more acidic vaginal pH. It is not FDA approved for treating urinary incontinence. The procedure is relatively new, and is not normally covered by insurance and can be expensive.

Pelvic prolapse and incontinence surgeries

Research prior to 2014 has shown that about 3% of U.S. women will have symptoms of prolapse in a given year. According to the authors of one study published in 2014, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 300,000 U.S. women undergo surgery for prolapse every year.(23)

The two most common surgeries are uterosacral ligament suspension and sacrospinous ligament fixation. This study, partly funded by the National Institute of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health, found positive outcomes for both treatments relating to prolapse symptoms and a small risk of side effects. The same authors suggest that by the year 2050, 44 million women in the U.S. will be facing symptoms of pelvic prolapse or pelvic floor disorders. You can read more about incontinence, here.

While these procedures may address pelvic prolapse and incontinence issues they do not address many of the other major symptoms of vaginal atrophy including dryness and itching, pain with intercourse or libido/sexual satisfaction.

Non Traditional Treatment Options include SERMs and DHEA

Less known hormone therapy treatment options include selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) and the use of DHEA.


Women suffering from vaginal atrophy may utilize SERMs, rather than traditional estrogen therapies, for relief. SERMs block or activate the estrogen receptors in certain areas of the body and not others. This can make them safer than estrogen therapy alone especially in a woman having a history or family history of breast cancer. SERMs can also relieve other menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and even bone density.

SERMS are unique to different parts of the body, so a SERM can block estrogen’s negative action in breast cells while activating positive effects in other cells, such as bone and uterine cells.

SERMS with positive vulvar-vaginal effects include lasofoxifene and ospemifene. These SERMs improve vaginal atrophy and reduce vaginal pH and more, but do have potentially serious side effects.(24) More research is ongoing but this is an exciting new area of addressing vaginal atrophy.

DHEA – The perfect natural solution

While most research and available treatments have been focused on the effects of diminishing estrogen and testosterone, there is another key hormone that has been found to play an important role in addressing vaginal atrophy symptoms, and that is dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

DHEA is an androgen, like testosterone. Androgens are important to the integrity of skin, muscle, and bone (in both males and females) and have a role in maintaining libido. They also improve energy level and mental alertness, provide cardiovascular protection by lowering cholesterol, and enhance bone building (by increasing calcium retention).

DHEA originates from the adrenal gland. It is an inactive precursor which leads to the production of active sex hormones like androgens or estrogens in specific cells and tissues. As estrogen levels naturally decrease it is DHEA that continues to be a remaining source of estrogens and androgens in the woman’s body.DHEA vaginal atrophy

DHEA produced by the body naturally “extends” protective benefits to women as their estrogen levels decrease, but only for a time. There is a progressive decrease in serum DHEA which starts at the age of 30 years with an average 60% loss observed by menopause.(25)

DHEA, however, can be introduced and utilized by the body.


While used for a variety of other health benefits, Oral DHEA has not been shown to address vaginal atrophy symptoms.(26)

Locally Applied DHEA

orchid represents femaleTopical DHEA has been found to have favorable effects on skin health and appearance (27) due to the production of collagen.

If DHEA is delivered directly to the vagina, the tissues transform DHEA to the estrogen, estradiol.(28) This natural production of estradiol occurs without a significant release of estrogens systemically in the blood.

I along with other physicians have been able to write prescriptions for customized vaginal and topical DHEA and other hormones for decades with much positive results.

In November 2016 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first product containing the active ingredient Prasterone, also known as DHEA.(29) The product, Intrarosa®, was approved to treat women experiencing moderate to severe pain during sexual intercourse, a chief symptom of vulvar atrophy.

Here’s a summary of surgical, SERMS and DHEA options, and then I will discuss DHEA in greater detail. There is a good deal of research on the benefits of DHEA in treating vaginal atrophy symptoms.

vaginal atrophy chart 3

My own clinical experience using DHEA to treat vaginal atrophy

As an Emory trained physician I started using androgen therapy in my private practice in 1999. I used bioidentical DHEA and Testosterone vaginally or applied it topically to the vulvar area. Patients came to me complaining of vaginal atrophy symptoms including vaginal dryness, irritation, pain during intercourse and urinary leakage. Many suffered from libido issues.

I routinely achieved positive results with my patients for improvements to sexual health and vaginal dryness, and a happy couple, libidoreduction in irritation and pain during intercourse. There were regular improvements in libido and sexual satisfaction.

Some patients also reported decreased incontinence symptoms. Many patients seeing me for possible surgery due to pelvic prolapse and stress incontinence issues were able to avoid surgery altogether once I prescribed vaginal DHEA and testosterone to them.

For these patients, a physical examination verified their reported improvements; there were notable tissue improvements in the lining and within the vaginal ruggations (the normal folds and elasticity) as well as contractility (the ability to contract the muscles of the pelvic floor). This meant more strength, more support to the urethra and bladder too.

The need for a non-prescription option

I wanted to be able to provide a non-prescription based topical solution that provided the least systemic effect. This wouldShea butter ingredient provide women all over the world with a less embarrassing option to address a significant quality of life and overall health issue associated with aging.

Three years of research along with my extensive clinical results led me to combine DHEA in cream form with other quality natural ingredients having been shown to be beneficial to the skin and its underlying tissues.

Those ingredients include Alpine Rose Stem Cells, Emu oil, Vitamin E Tocopherol, Coconut oil and Shea Butter.

Alpine Rose Stem Cells are harvested from Swiss alpine plants and contain unique compounds that help the plant survive extremely challenging environments. The stem cells have been shown in increase skin cell replenishment, protect against age-related oxidative stress, have antiviral effects and are loaded with polyphenolic antioxidant compounds.(39)

Vitamin E Tocopherol provides anti-inflammatory support; Coconut oil provides a safe and natural lubricant; Emu oil promotes deeper tissue absorption and regenerates skin cells while improving thinning skin.

My research concluded that a small 5-10 mg daily dosage of DHEA topically applied achieved excellent symptom improvements, after which I recommend a reduced maintenance dosage protocol.

The birth of Julva

Julva feminine cream photoThe combination of that dosage of DHEA along with the other quality natural ingredients is now available as Julva®, a restorative topical cream for the vulva, urethra, and vagina. It already has hundreds of women providing heart-felt testimonials about how Julva has helped them physically and mentally…as well as sexually.

You can read about my own story and why that fed into my need to research and develop Julva, or you can learn much more about Julva here. Along with more information as well as testimonials, you will find an extensive FAQs on my wonderful feminine cream on the Julva website.

I’ve perfected this cream with love and prayers that it helps women around the world feel good about our sexual health especially as we deal with the normal changes of age.

I’ve focused on making it really safe, and along with addressing all of the above…it is designed to effectively improve the divinely designed function of our beautiful, feminine, pelvic floor.

The remainder of this article consists of research on the positive benefits of local DHEA on vaginal atrophy symptoms, incontinence, and libido. Let’s never forget about libido, and most of the other solutions in the market do not have a direct affect on arousal and sexual satisfaction; some can help as they reduce pain (because of lubrication)…but DHEA has research specifically focused on this all important area…read on!

Locally applied DHEA effectively treats vaginal atrophy symptoms: RESEARCH

The research surrounding vaginally applied DHEA has shown it to:

● Reduce vaginal dryness and irritation
● Strengthen vaginal musculature
● Increase bone mineral density
● Decrease pain during intercourse
● Increase arousal and libido, as well as sexual satisfaction

1. Reduce vaginal dryness and irritation

In a study reported in the Journal of The North American Menopause Society in 2016 (30), daily intravaginal administration of DHEA caused highly statistically significant improvements in four measurements of vaginal atrophy.

482 Participants using DHEA (0.50% daily Prasterone for 12 weeks) resulted in:

Vaginal dryness improvements
1.44 severity score units compared to baseline, or 0.27 units over placebo
Gynecological evaluations
86% to 121% improvements (4 measures) over the placebo
Vaginal pH acidity
Decreased by 0.66 pH units over placebo
Pain during sexual activity
Decreased by 1.42 severity score units from baseline or 0.36 units over placebo

In this study and in earlier studies local Prasterone (DHEA) resulted in these improvements with minimal changes in serum steroid levels.(31) In one earlier 2009 study, 216 women were given 3 different daily doses of Prasterone, 0.25%, 0.50% and 1.0%. All three doses results in highly significant beneficial changes in vaginal secretions, a decrease in vaginal pH, epithelial surface thickness, color, and epithelial integrity.

2. Strengthen vaginal musculature

In another 2009 study, DHEA was applied locally within the vagina resulting in a significant improvement to all three layers of the vagina (epithelium, lamina propria and muscularis) versus simply affecting the superficial epithelial cells.(32)

Strengthening this deeper musculature can help with incontinence issues (as you can also see with pelvic exercising).

I have numerous case studies demonstrating improvements in vaginal musculature as well as urinary incontinence issues through the use of locally applied DHEA.

3. Increase bone mineral density

In clinical studies, locally applied DHEA has been found to increase bone mineral density (33) and to result in an increase in serum osteocalcin, a marker of bone formation.(34)

4. Decrease pain during intercourse (dyspareunia)

In a clinical trial in 2015 using intravaginal Prasterone (6.5 mg daily for 12 weeks) there was a statistically significant beneficial effect on moderate to severe dyspareunia.(35) The authors also noted that vaginal dryness and dyspareunia presented together in 70-80% of women.

In the author’s 2016 study the results from the 2015 trial were confirmed. The 2016 trial included 558 postmenopausal women with moderate to severe dyspareunia as their most bothersome vaginal atrophy symptom. Results were once again statistically significant for beneficial effects at the daily intravaginal dose of 0.50% (6.5 mg) of Prasterone.(36)

5. Increase arousal and libido, as well as sexual satisfaction

In the 2009 study, 1.0% DHEA applied locally within the vagina resulted in a marked improvement to four aspects of sexual dysfunction: desire, arousal, pleasure and orgasm.(37)

  • Desire showed improvements of 23% using DHEA versus placebo
  • Improvements in arousal and lubrication showed 139% with DHEA versus placebo
  • Improvements in orgasm showed 75% versus placebo
  • Dryness during intercourse improved 57% with DHEA versus placebo

In a 2015 study the long-term effect on the sexual function of 154 postmenopausal women reporting some form of vaginal atrophy was evaluated based on a 52-week treatment with daily intravaginal 0.50% (6.5 mg) DHEA.

Results showed increases as follows: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain were improved by 28%, 49%, 115%, 51%, 41% and 108%, respectively.(38)

Women having had breast cancer: There has also been some exciting research done (not yet published) that has shown vaginally applied DHEA to effectively treat vaginal dryness, pain and other vaginal atrophy symptoms – including libido – especially in women having had breast cancer. This 2014 clinical trial has not yet been published but I’ve included information on my website should you be interested in learning more.

There is additional research as well. See the references at the bottom if you’d like to read the individual research articles.

Final words on DHEA and Vaginal Atrophy

Let’s start the conversation about this life-affecting problem.

So many women just deal with the symptoms by continuing to live with them, wearing panty-liners, and being unhappy and in sexual distress. Even women who are not having sexual intercourse should know…there are treatments to help them live with less pain… I know many women who can’t even get a Pap Smear without great discomfort..

And we all should know how to keep our pelvic floor healthy (so as to not have to deal with prolapse issues and incontinence).

Join me in this conversation! Start by taking my Eve Questionnaire…

QUIZ TIME! Take my Eve Questionnaire to understand your sexual & pelvic health.

In 2 minutes flat, you’ll get a score (from 0 to 70 – where lower is better) that represents an assessment of your sexual and pelvic health. Once you know your starting number, it’s much easier to improve.

You are welcome to provide the link to this article (or any of my blog articles) to your loved ones, friends and/or patients. In fact, I encourage that… 

You may provide the link in your own ezine or blog as well.

Note that reprinting or reposting this or any of the articles published on DrAnnaCabeca.com requires written authorization. Email: Team@drannacabeca.com.

Copyright 2016  Dr. Anna Cabeca



[1] Fernand Labrie, MD, PhD, David Archer, MD, Ce´line Bouchard, MD, et al. Intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (Prasterone), a physiological and highly efficient treatment of vaginal atrophy. The Journal of the North American Menopause Society. 2009;16(5):907-922.

[2] Patrick J. Culligan, MD, and Michael Heit, MD, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, Louisville, Kentucky. Urinary incontinence in women: evaluation and management. Am Fam Physician. 2000; Dec 1;62(11):2433-2444.

[3] S. Leiblum, G. Bachmann, E. Kemmann, D. Colburn, L. Schwartzman. Vaginal atrophy in the postmenopausal woman. The importance of sexual activity and hormones. JAMA. 1983;249(16):2195-2198. hormones.

[4] N.E. Avis, S. Brockwell, J.F. Randolph Jr, et al. Longitudinal changes in sexual functioning as women transition through menopause: results from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Menopause. 2009;16(3):442-452.

[5] L. Dennerstein, J.R. Guthrie, R.D. Hayes, L.R. DeRogatis, P. Lehert. Sexual function, dysfunction, and sexual distress in a prospective, population based sample of mid-aged, Australian-born women.  J Sex Med. 2008 Oct;5(10):2291-9. Epub 2008 Jul 14.

[6] L.R. Knoepp, S.H. Shippey, C.C. Chen, G.W. Cundiff, L.R. DeRogatis, V.L. Handa. Sexual complaints, pelvic floor symptoms, and sexual distress in women over forty. J Sex Med. 2010 Nov;7(11):3675-82.

[7] Jan L. Shifren, MD; Brigitta U. Monz, MD; Patricia A. Russo, PhD; Anthony Segreti, PhD; Catherine B. Johannes, PhD. Sexual problems and distress in United States women: prevalence and correlates. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2008 November;112(5):970-978.

[8] Fernand Labrie, MD, PhD, David Archer, MD, Ce´line Bouchard, MD, et al. Intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (Prasterone), a physiological and highly efficient treatment of vaginal atrophy. The Journal of the North American Menopause Society. 2009;16(5):907-922.

[9] Sharon J. Parish, Rossella E. Nappi, Michael L. Krychman, et al. Impact of vulvovaginal health on postmenopausal women: a review of surveys on symptoms of vulvovaginal atrophy. Int J Womens Health. 2013;5:437-447.

[10] J. Calleja-Agius, M.P. Brincat. Urogenital atrophy, Climacteric. 12 (4) (2009) 279–285.

[11] Labrie F, Diamond P, Cusan L, Gomez JL, Be´langer A, Candas B. Effect of 12-month dehydroepiandrosterone replacement therapy on bone, vagina, and endometrium in postmenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997;82:3498-3505.

[12] DT Villareal, JO Holloszy. Effect of DHEA on abdominal fat and insulin action in elderly women and men: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2004;292:2243-2248.

[13] Available at: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/black-cohosh. Accessed January 2, 2017.

[14] L.M. Chiechj, G. Putignano, V. Guerra, M.P Schiavelli, A.M. Cisternino, C. Carriero. The effect of a soy rich diet on the vaginal epithelium in postmenopause: a randomized double blind trial. Maturitas. 2003. Aug 20;45(4):241-6.

[15] Rippy L, Marsden J. Is HRT justified for symptom management in women at higher risk of developing breast cancer? Climacteric. 2006;9:404–15.

[16] S.L. Johnston, S.A. Farrell, C. Bouchard, et al. The detection and management of vaginal atrophy. J Obstet Gynaecol Can 2004;26:503-515.

[17] Jay H. Lee, MD, Suzanne Gomez, MD, Terry Ann Jankowski, MLS. Hormone therapy for postmenopausal women with urinary incontinence. Am Fam Physician. 2011 Jul 1;84(1).

[18] LP Shulman. Transdermal hormone therapy and bone health. Clin Interv Aging. 2008;3:51–4.

[19] Available at: http://asj.oxfordjournals.org/genitalrejuvenation. Accessed January 2, 2017.

[20] Available at: http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Gynecologic-Practice/Vaginal-Rejuvenation-and-Cosmetic-Vaginal-Procedures. Accessed January 2, 2017.

[21] Available at: www.thegshot.com. Accessed January 2, 2017.

[22] Available at: https://www.acog.org/-/media/434ADADB30E846B09D359F3F1432510E.pdf

Fractional laser treatment of vulvovaginal atrophy and U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance position statement The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  May 2016. Accessed January 2, 2017.

[23] Barber, M. D., L. Brubaker, K.L. Burgio, H.E. Richter, I. Nygaard, S.F. Meikle; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Pelvic Floor Disorders Network (2014). Comparison of two transvaginal surgical approaches and perioperative behavioral therapy for apical vaginal prolapse: the OPTIMAL randomized trial. JAMA, 311(10), 1023–1034.

[24] J.V. Pinkerton, F.Z. Stanczyk. Clinical effects of selective estrogen receptor modulators on vulvar and vaginal atrophy. Menopause. 2014 Mar;21(3):309-19.

[25] Labrie F, Be´langer A, Cusan L, Gomez JL, Candas B. Marked decline in serum concentrations of adrenal C19 sex steroid precursors and conjugated androgen metabolites during aging. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1997;82:2396-2402.

[26] R.M. Goel, A.R. Cappola. Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and postmenopausal women. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2011 Jun;18(3):171-6.

[27] Available at: http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2010/12/new-research-substantiates-the-anti-aging-properties-of-dhea/page-02. Accessed January 2, 2017.

[28] Labrie F, Bélanger A, Bélanger P, et al. Androgen glucuronides, instead of testosterone, as the new markers of androgenic activity in women. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2006;99:182–8.

[29] Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm529641.htm. Accessed January 2, 2017.

[30] F. Labrie, D.F. Archer, W. Koltun, et al. 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 Mar;23(3):243-256.

[31] Fernand Labrie, MD, PhD, David Archer, MD, Ce´line Bouchard, MD, et al. Intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (Prasterone), a physiological and highly efficient treatment of vaginal atrophy. Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society. 2009;16(5):907-922.

[32] F. Labrie, D.F. Archer, C. Bouchard, et al. Effect of intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (Prasterone) on libido and sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women. Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society. 2009 Sept-Oct;16(5):923-31.

[33] F. Labrie, V. Luu-The, C. Labrie, et al. Endocrine and intracrine sources of androgens in women: inhibition of breast cancer and other roles of androgens and their precursor dehydroepiandrosterone. Endocr Rev. 2003 Apr;24(2):152-82.

[34] F. Labrie, P. Diamond, L. Cusan, J.L. Gomez, A. Be´langer, B. Candas. Effect of 12-month dehydroepiandrosterone replacement therapy on bone, vagina, and endometrium in postmenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997;82:3498-3505.

[35] D.F. Archer, F. Labrie, C. Bouchard, et al. Treatment of pain at sexual activity (dyspareunia) with intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (Prasterone). Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society. 2015 Sep;22(9):950-63.

[36] F. Labrie, D.F. Archer, W. Koltun, et al. 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: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society. 2016 Mar;23(3):243-56.

[37] F. Labrie, D.F. Archer, C. Bouchard, et al. Effect of intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (Prasterone) on libido and sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women. Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society. 2009 Sept-Oct;16(5):923-31.

[38] C. Bouchard, F. Labrie, L. Derogatis, VVA Prasterone Group, et al. Effect of intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on the sexual function in postmenopausal women: ERC-230 open-label study. Horm Mol Biol Clin Investig. 2016 Mar;25(3):181-90.

[39] Available at: https://mibellebiochemistry.com/app/uploads/2015/03/Alpine-Rose-Active_Ecocert_Certified_Alpine_Rose_Active_Combats_Aging_by_Protecting_Skin_Proteins_CosmeticsDesign_02_2011.pdf. Accessed January 2, 2017.

Please review my medical disclaimers: Important information you should read!

Information contained in this article and blog, and on all of Dr. Anna Cabeca’s websites, is provided for informational purposes only and not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional and is not intended as medical advice. Dr. Anna Cabeca provides information based on years of medical practice and encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Do not use the information provided on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem.
If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website.

Information provided on this website and the use by you of any products or services referenced on this website DOES NOT create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. Anna Cabeca.

Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Copyright 2016                                                                                                                                                                  Dr. Anna Cabeca

Related Blogs:

    None Found

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

23 thoughts on “Why DHEA is optimal for vaginal dryness, pain and pelvic health

  1. Do you have samples I have excrutiating pain and don’t know what to use. I cry myself to sleep every night .My address is
    2915 Orchard Ave #E27
    Grand Jct Colo 81504
    My phone number is

    1. Hi Phyllis. I’m sorry you are having such pain. You don’t really specify why but if due to dryness and irritation you should definitely try Julva. I have a free 7 night trial supply you can order and just pay shipping, here is the link: order.julva.com/trial and right now that also comes with a free report on vaginal dryness. Let us know how you do with it.

  2. Hi, Im 37, 6 weeks post tvh, and rectocele repair.
    Im using Estradiol tabs and just started Intrarosa last week.
    Im experiencing terrible vaginal dryness, loss of elasticity, and painful intercourse.
    Ive just gotten a UTI as well and wonder if its from vaginal atrophy or the meds possibly?
    I only get UTIs and yeast infections when Im pregnant, usually.
    I dont have any cancer, heart problems, thyroid problems.
    We are self pay and the cost of Intrarosa is very high.
    Im curious about trying Julva, but since it is applied externally Im not sure its enough or appropriate for vaginal atrophy post hysterectomy?
    I do plan to speak with my Dr about it, though she is likely to brush off any sort of non traditional option.
    What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Aubrey, sorry for the delay, am just catching up on holiday messages…

      Julva should help even though applied externally and you can also use it to lubricate prior to intercourse. If you are getting frequent UTI’s, make sure you are supplementing with 2000-4000 IU of Vitamin C and using a probiotic. As well with ovarian removal I highly recommend adding progesterone 25 days per month such as my Purabalance PPr cream. Use 1/2 to 1 pump at bedtime. Please let us know how you do.

  3. I have been using Julva for about 7 months but I am still experiencing vaginal dryness, painful intercourse and zero libido. I have just been prescribed bioidentical hormones: estrogen cream, progesterone cream and testoserone. Can I ask if your thoughts on applying all 3 plus julva? It seems you used DHEA (in julva) with testosterone with your patients with good results and not estrogen and progesterone?

  4. I really wish this product did not contain emu oil. As a person who cares about non-human animals, this ingredient precludes me from using it. I hope you will find a cruelty-free substitute– it seems that wouldn’t be difficult.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Cara, Believe me I understand the thoughts and controversy around emu oil and appreciate the discussion.
      As a gynecologist and specialist in women’s sexual health I know there really is a paucity of truly helpful and restorative solutions for conditions such as vaginal dryness, incontinence, vulvodynia, lichen sclerosis, vestibulitis, and the list goes on.

      Surgical procedures and potent medications are often resorted to with less than fantastic results, not to mention over 40% of women over 50 suffer without treatment. In my over twenty years of ob/gyn practice I experimented with vaginal and vulvar topical (even non estrogen containing) hormonal therapies with excellent results, but the best healing results were, without a doubt, when I used emu oil in my combinations.

      Yes, I was conflicted about this, especially as I worked to create an over the counter solution for women that could be applied cleanly to the vulva and get restorative results, improving quality of life and relationships.

      There are no unethical or mutilation practices with our Emu’s. They are treated very well on large multi-acre farms as they thrive in open spaces.

      The meat and oil are both very valuable .

      Our emu oil is AEA (American Emu Association) 100% Certified fully refined. (some are not).

      Creamy, odorless oil with no separation, all natural , with no chemicals used in the processing and contains no allergens.

      In my over 4 years of formulation, emu oil combined with my ingredients got the best results and has really restored women’s sexual health, desire, and confidence that they won’t leak anymore when they exercise! Seriously, a little bit of emu oil goes a long way and can really improve some devastating conditions.

      I truly tried many other combinations, but safety and efficacy wins out with this combination. Here is the link to my product: Julva.com and take a look at the other ingredients which you will love. But the results speak for themselves as you will see in the testimonials.

      Thanks for commenting.

  5. ? – I wanted to try this new vaginal cream with the DHEA BUT…

    i have extreme hair loss and take anti androgens ( I am female) and use special shampoos which nothing helps really.

    My MD was going to give me testosterone or DHEA to help with my libido – then he said no way because I cannot have androgens added to my regimen or I will lose more hair

    SO – the DHEA used vaginally…will it still absorb into my body & thus could be a problem for my hair loss? I would never want to do anything to make it worse than it already is.. Thanks

    1. Hi Sue, you’ll definitely want to listen to my podcast with Dr. Shel (https://youtu.be/UGVtBqxl538)! Julva is worth a try because it is topical and to the vulva with little if any systemic absorption, however begin at half the dose 3 days per week to start and, if not already, add zinc 60mg per day. (We do offer a 60 day money back guarantee on Julva.) I have these same issues as a rapid converter of T to DHT so I use zinc picolinate 50-100 mg regularly. Catch that podcast though and let us know how you do!

  6. Hi Dr Anna,
    I’m just starting pre menopause and I’ve had burning on my vulva and outside my vagina it doesn’t make sex comfortable. It feels like I have a yeast infection but I don’t think I have one because I have no discharge but it burns when I use cream on the outside. My Dr prescribed a cream to put on the outside and vulva and estrogen cream inserted at night.
    I haven’t used the estrogen cream yet I do want a natural option so I got a free trial of Julva. Are all my symptoms part of menopause? How long until it will go away after using Julva? The symptoms I’m having confuse me.
    Thank you so much for this website and your knowledge it’s been very valuable and helpful;)

    1. Hi Sophia,
      Thank you for your question and I want you to know how honored I am that you would reach out to me. I do wish you the best and pray for your speedy and complete healing. Honestly, however, I can not respond with specific medical advice without having a clinical relationship with you, I do hope you understand this constraint. To best answer this I’d need your full history at least. There is however, so much good information in my blogs and my programs that can support you, so I do hope you will join me in those. Please email my team@drannacabeca.com with further questions. If you need a functional medicine practitioner you can look here to see if there is one in your vicinity: https://www.ifm.org/find-a-practitioner/ That individual would be best able to assess your current health, your vaginal symptoms, and potential treatment options. Take care…and I do hope you will work with someone who can help answer your very good questions as well as help you heal.

      I do believe it is worth trying Julva (so glad you have ordered the free trial…but you may want to use Julva for 6-8 weeks to see if that will truly help with all of your symptoms…you may wish to review the Julva FAQs at https://drannacabeca.clickfunnels.com/faq) and my “All thing V” ebook that you get free as a VIP subscriber (https://store.cabecahealth.com/products/julva-vip?variant=45123735683 ) would have so much beneficial information for you. Provide this info to your doctor, too! We can provide your doctor with samples as well, they just need to contact our office. Please follow up with us via email at team@drannacabeca.com and let us know how you do.

  7. I have had Monalisa done 7 times and it does help but wasn’t the complete answer for me. I’ve also tried a low dose of DHEA orally and not only lost a lot of hair but also experienced acne and facial hair growth. DHEA did make me feel better. I had more energy, lost weight and pelvic region in general felt better. But going bald to get there just won’t work. Plus I’ve had a blood clot. So all hormones are a risk for me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on other options.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      Topical Julva will be very safe and is not a risk for coagulopathy. Because of your acne history, I’d also recommend zinc picolinate 50mg per day.

      I can’t respond further without having a clinical relationship with you, but if you need a functional medicine practitioner you can look here to see if there is one in your vicinity: https://www.ifm.org/find-a-practitioner/. Please let me know how you do.

  8. can the vaginally applied DHEA cause insomnia? I think I read somewhere that the prescription brand Intrarosa did in some people. I have horrible insomnia and really want to try this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *