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Eat To Grow: Stiffy in a Jiffy?

DHEA can give you a lift, but it may take a few weeks.

DHEA was once the big wonder supplement, promising to cure just about all ills. While it’s no longer in the top 10, it’s shown its power in some studies.

According to an article published in The Lancet, ‘DHEA concentrations peak at age 20, decline thereafter, remorselessly and profoundly, so that by 60 years of age they are one-third of those in young adults’ (345:1193-1194; 1995).

One area where DHEA may be very effective is in men suffering from erectile dysfunction, or E.D. A study reported in the medical journal Urology involved 40 men, ages 41 to 69, all who had E.D. and were seeking treatment at an impotence clinic (43:590-595; 1999). Half took 50 milligrams of DHEA daily, while the other half took a placebo. For the first eight weeks there was no significant difference in either group, but at 16 weeks the DHEA group showed the positive effect, defined as ‘the ability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory performance.’ At 24 weeks the difference was even more significant. No side effects’such as prostate enlargement or increased risk of prostate cancer (as defined by altered levels of PSA, PRL or testosterone)’were noted. Only serum DHEA levels increased.

While further studies using larger groups are warranted, this study showed improvement at 16 weeks in all the subjects who used DHEA.

Disadvantages? It takes 16 weeks to work, so someone might be tempted to reach for Viagra, which works in less than an hour; however, Viagra is quite expensive, not covered by most health plans and has some side effects. It also cannot be used safely by people taking certain medications. DHEA is quite inexpensive in comparison.

Remember, the men in the study were at an impotence clinic due to E.D. The journal reported that ‘all men were able to achieve erections at the start of sexual activity, but on initiating intercourse, were unable to maintain the erection long enough for climax.’ At the end of the study the men taking DHEA were able to achieve an erection that they maintained long enough to climax. They were not men who simply wanted to enhance an already satisfactory sex life. Thus, if you’re able to enjoy good sex now, regardless of age, DHEA probably won’t do anything to help you enjoy it more. IM

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