A new hormone pill for post-menopausal women could mean their hot flushes will be restricted to the bedroom, thanks to its sex-boosting properties.
The hormone not only eases menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, research suggests it can improve women's sexual satisfaction, too.
A study showed that low doses of DHEA, which is a hormone produced naturally by the body in the adrenal gland, improves sexual satisfaction and activity.
Dr John Stevenson, consultant metabolic physician at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London and chairman of the charity Women's Health Concern, said: “These are interesting findings and we now need a bigger study.
"There is a demand for alternatives to HRT caused by safety fears which have since been overturned.
"But it's not possible yet to know whether DHEA is as safe as HRT or carries more risks, which is why we need larger trials."
A team of researchers at the University of Pisa, Italy, studied a group of 48 post-menopausal women.
Over the course of a year, 12 of the women took vitamin D and calcium. A further 12 took DHEA and two other groups were given HRT containing oestrogen and progesterone, or the synthetic steroid tibolone, also known as Livial.
The women were questioned about both their menopausal symptoms and sexual interest and activity.
After 12 months, all the women receiving hormone-replacement supplements showed improvements in menopausal symptoms, while those taking vitamin D and calcium did not show any significant improvement.
To measure sexual satisfaction and activity, the women were given a questionnaire exploring satisfaction with frequency of sex, vaginal lubrication, orgasm and sexual partners.
One year later it was found that those who had taken DHEA had a significant lift in sexual interest and activity, similar to those taking HRT but higher than those who had taken just calcium and vitamin D.