DOI: 10.1093/jsxmed/qdae001.118 ISSN: 1743-6095

(124) An Open-Label, Vulvoscopic Pilot Study of Intravaginal Prasterone in Menopausal Women with Dyspareunia Examining Vestibular Tissue Changes

SW Goldstein, I Goldstein, NN Kim
  • Urology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Psychiatry and Mental health



Prasterone (DHEA), a daily 6.5 mg intravaginal insert, is approved in the US and Canada for moderate to severe dyspareunia, a symptom of vulvovaginal atrophy from menopause. Prasterone converts intracellularly in vaginal epithelial cells into active androgens and estrogens without affecting systemic hormone blood levels. Although prasterone is a vaginal insert, the significant reduction of pain in the phase 3 registration trials suggests improvement of the vestibular endodermal genital tissue health associated with dyspareunia in androgen and estrogen deficient states like menopause. To the best of our knowledge, there have not been previous prospective studies documenting visible changes to the vestibule with daily administration of 6.5 mg prasterone in menopausal women with vulvovaginal atrophy and moderate to severe dyspareunia.


It is the aim of this study to investigate whether an intravaginal therapy, prasterone, could affect the vestibular tissue, assessing for changes in visual appearance, pain, and responses on sexual event diaries over the 20-week administration of intravaginal 6.5 mg prasterone.


This 20-week, open-label, prospective, pilot study included 11 menopausal women (median age = 56 y) treated daily with 6.5 mg prasterone intravaginal inserts and assessed every 4 weeks. During vulvoscopy, vestibular pain was assessed by cotton-tipped swab testing and vestibular and vaginal health were independently assessed using the Visual Scale (VS). In addition, vulvoscopic photographs were obtained and assessed using the Vulvoscopic Genital Tissue Appearance (VGTA) scale to evaluate overall genital tissue health. Mean changes from baseline for genital tissue health and pain assessments were analyzed by repeated measures one-way analysis of variance, followed by Dunnett’s post-hoc test. Sexual event diaries were completed, and adverse events recorded.


Eleven participants completed the study, with a total of 1607 vulvoscopic photographs, showing reduction in vestibular erythema and pallor at end of study. Total VGTA scores at week 20 showed improvement from baseline (mean change = -7.9, p = 0.0016). Changes in VS scores were significantly reduced from baseline after active treatment by week 4 and maintained through week 20 for the vestibule (3.00, p = 0.004) and vagina (4.00, p = 0.002) respectively), suggesting improved vestibular and vaginal tissue health. Cotton-tipped swab test scores were significantly reduced from baseline after week 8 through week 20 (mean change = (-7.27, p = 0.019), suggesting decreased pain. Diary results showed decrease in pain from 81.3% during the first month to 8.3% during the last month of the study, with sexual activities discontinued due to discomfort reduced from 45.8% to 6.3% respectively. No prasterone related adverse events were reported.


This is the first prospective vulvoscopic study showing that intravaginal hormone therapy significantly improves total VGTA, VS and cotton-tipped swab test scores. This observation may explain the robust effect of prasterone in lowering dyspareunia in menopausal women with moderate to severe dyspareunia. Our findings suggest that intravaginal prasterone exerts biologic activity on the androgenic endodermal vestibule, as the medication passes from vagina to vestibule, resulting in amelioration of pain associated with sexual activity.


Yes, this is sponsored by industry/sponsor: AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Clarification: Industry funding only - investigator initiated and executed study.

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