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The right way to take DHEA

A little dab will do

Q: I have read a bit about testosterone for erectile dysfunction, but recently came across a blurb about DHEA. Can you tell me more about this hormone?

Dr. Wright: Nearly all the focus on hormones and erectile dysfunction has been on testosterone. But DHEA also plays a role in erectile dysfunction. In fact, several years ago, Russian researchers found a significant correlation between lower serum levels of DHEA sulfate (one measurement of DHEA) and erectile function in men with chronic prostatitis, regardless of the man’s age.

But it’s not necessary to have this problem for DHEA to work for you. It offers a simple, natural solution for anyone battling erectile dysfunction–if it’s used in the correct way. But the DHEA capsules you’ll find in your local pharmacy or vitamin shop aren’t the best option…

When your body makes its own DHEA, it is produced in your adrenal glands, and then released into the bloodstream, where it goes straight to the heart. The heart then pumps the unchanged DHEA molecules to every cell in your body. So every cell that can use DHEA gets its supply of these unchanged molecules, and uses them exactly as Nature intended.

But when you swallow DHEA, it goes to your intestines first, then straight to your liver. For DHEA–and for all other internally secreted steroids, including testosterone, estrogens, and progesterone–the liver serves mostly as a “garbage disposal,” adding other molecules (a process technically termed “conjugation”), which act as “routing tickets” for the steroids, mostly routing them back out of the body again through the intestines and kidneys.

So the closest way to mimic the effects of naturally produced DHEA is for it to be absorbed through the mucous membranes right around and outside the anal area (the same area hemorrhoids may occur). (For women who use DHEA–for other purposes, of course–the vaginal or labia areas also have mucous membrane surfaces.) When DHEA is applied to these membranes, it gets absorbed into the bloodstream, where it then follows the natural course through your body, rather than making a detour through your intestines and liver where much of it is targeted for disposal.

So if you want to try DHEA to combat erectile dysfunction, and you want to give it the best chance of working, consult with a physician skilled and knowledgeable in natural medicine and bio-identical hormone replacement, who can write you a prescription for a DHEA crème.

Fortunately the daily dose of crème is very small–typically just 2/10 to 3/10 of a “cc” (which is a dab about the size of a very small pea). It also absorbs quite rapidly, within just a few minutes, so it’s a lot less bother than you might imagine.

For more information on DHEA, refer back to the December 2008 issue, which subscribers can view free at