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DHEA is 5-Dehydroepiandrosterone, a hormone made by your adrenal glands. It has been found to be effective for a number of uses, but it comes with a number of side effects that occur due to altered hormone levels. Researchers have found that one side effect in particular may be a positive effect on infertility 1.
Your body makes DHEA naturally as the basic ingredient of the sex hormones estrogen and androgen. Your natural DHEA levels peak around age 30, then steadily decline as you age. This decline coincides with many age-related conditions such as osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, metabolic syndrome and muscular degeneration, leading researchers to believe that the hormone may play a role in these conditions. Younger people with certain condition like schizophrenia, kidney disease, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome have also been found to have low natural levels of DHEA, leading researchers to believe that boosting those levels back up to normal may improve those conditions.
- Your body makes DHEA naturally as the basic ingredient of the sex hormones estrogen and androgen.
- This decline coincides with many age-related conditions such as osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, metabolic syndrome and muscular degeneration, leading researchers to believe that the hormone may play a role in these conditions.
Normal DHEA Levels in Women
DHEA is most commonly used to help lose fat and build muscle by altering the natural hormone levels and possibly altering metabolism. This use is so widespread and anecdotally effective that DHEA is banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The problem arises when the user relies on DHEA for too long -- the longer you use the supplement, the more susceptible you are to the side effects. Women may experience facial hair growth, voice deepening and belly-fat gain, and men may begin to grow breast tissue. This is why it's very important to coordinate your DHEA use with your doctor, so he can determine the dosage amount and cycle length that is right for you.
- DHEA is most commonly used to help lose fat and build muscle by altering the natural hormone levels and possibly altering metabolism.
- The problem arises when the user relies on DHEA for too long -- the longer you use the supplement, the more susceptible you are to the side effects.
DHEA is not only a hormone, but the precursor to the sex hormones, so it is no surprise that it may alter your menstrual cycle. Your sex hormones are responsible for everything that makes you female, and a process as major and complicated as preparing the womb to carry a child is heavily dependent on these chemicals. When the balance of sex hormone levels is altered, it may affect the frequency and regularity of your periods, and could make cramps and flow worse.
DHEA for Muscle Growth
In an unusual turn of events, it was the patients who informed the doctors that the use of DHEA carried the positive side effect of making infertility treatments successful. Researchers used this anecdotal evidence to launch studies into the effectiveness and viability of the practice, and were pleasantly surprised -- a study conducted by Professor Adrian Schulman of Tel Aviv University found that women who took DHEA during infertility treatment were more likely to become pregnant than those on infertility treatment only. The difference was huge -- 23 percent of the women who took DHEA produced live births as opposed to 6 percent of the women who did not. Of course, there is not enough research to make DHEA supplementation a common adjunct to infertility treatment yet, but studies are ongoing. If you are trying to conceive, it is worth consulting your doctor.
- In an unusual turn of events, it was the patients who informed the doctors that the use of DHEA carried the positive side effect of making infertility treatments successful.
Normal DHEA Levels in Women
DHEA for Muscle Growth
Irreversible Side Effects of DHEA
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What Is DHEA 25 Mg?
DHEA Harmful Effects
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The Effects of Testosterone Boosters on the Body
Positive Effects of Proviron
- Science Daily: "Increasing Fertility Threefold With DHEA?"; July 1, 2010
- MedlinePlus: DHEA
- National Instutites of Health MedlinePlus. Wild yam. Updated April 18, 2018.
- National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus. DHEA. Updated May 29, 2019.
- Park SG, Hwang S, Kim JS, Park KC, Kwon Y, Kim KC. The association between dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) and bone mineral density in Korean men and women. J Bone Metab. 2017;24(1):31–36. doi:10.11005/jbm.2017.24.1.31
- von Mühlen D, Laughlin GA, Kritz-Silverstein D, Bergstrom J, Bettencourt R. Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation on bone mineral density, bone markers, and body composition in older adults: the DAWN trial. Osteoporos Int. 2008;19(5):699–707. doi:10.1007/s00198-007-0520-z
- Peixoto C, Devicari Cheda JN, Nardi AE, Veras AB, Cardoso A. The effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in the treatment of depression and depressive symptoms in other psychiatric and medical illnesses: A systematic review. Curr Drug Targets. 2014;15(9):901-14.
- Cleveland Clinic. Prasterone, DHEA tables or capsules (Dietary supplements).
- Archer DF. Dehydroepiandrosterone intra vaginal administration for the management of postmenopausal vulvovaginal atrophy. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015 Jan;145:139-43. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2014.09.003
- Freitas RP, Lemos TM, Spyrides MH, Sousa MB. Influence of cortisol and DHEA-S on pain and other symptoms in post menopausal women with fibromyalgia. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2012;25(4):245-52. doi:10.3233/BMR-2012-0331.
- Gómez-Santos C, Hernández-Morante JJ, Tébar FJ, et al. Differential effect of oral dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate on metabolic syndrome features in pre- and postmenopausal obese women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012;77(4):548-54. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04306.x.
- Panjari M, Davis SR. DHEA for postmenopausal women: a review of the evidence. Maturitas. 2010;66(2):172-9. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2009.12.017
Angela Brady has been writing since 1997. Currently transitioning to a research career in oncolytic virology, she has won awards for her work related to genomics, proteomics, and biotechnology. She is also an authority on sustainable design, having studied, practiced and written extensively on the subject.