DHEA Fact Sheet

by | May 14, 2017 | Adrenal, Articles, Conditions

DHEA, or Dehydroepiandrosteroneis produced by the adrenal gland and normally decreases with age, with levels starting to decline after the age of 30.  DHEA has two types of actions in the body:

  1. Conversion: DHEA converts in the body into more potent male and female hormones including testosterone and estrogen
  2. Actions of its own: DHEA enhances the immune system and may protect the blood vessels against atherosclerosis
  • Increased DHEA can be a result of emotional stress. Intake of foods high in protein or saturated fat can increase levels
  • Decreased DHEA can be caused by a diet rich in sugar, sweets, and high fiber cereal (such as whole grain or bran flakes)

Signs and Symptoms of DHEA Deficiency

  • Fatigue and/or depression
  • Decreased immune system function
  • Decreased sexual desire (men and women)
  • Decreased exercise tolerance and loss of muscle tone
  • Dry skin and eyes
  • Reduced axillary (armpit) and pubic hair


Requirements for Monitoring Therapy:

  • Baseline blood testing of DHEA level. Concurrent testing of other hormones as appropriate
  • Periodic blood testing of DHEA levels to assure adequate dosing


DHEA may be found at compounding pharmacies and health food stores, concentrations vary widely so a knowledgeable professional should assure the dose is correct

  • Oral DHEA is preferred
  • Proper dosing will vary and depends on the amount of DHEA deficiency and the response to treatment
  • Improvements may be seen after 3-4 months; six months of treatment is necessary to obtain the full effects of DHEA treatment

Signs and Symptoms of Too Much DHEA

  • Unwanted body and/or facial hair
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Menstrual cycle disturbances

Risks and Benefits of Treatment


  • Replacement is contraindicated if there is active presnce of breast, uterine or prostate cancer
  • Caution must be taken in the presence of preexisting liver disease
  • DHEA should not be taken if there is no deficiency
  • May worsen an untreated cortisol deficiency


  • Improved energy levels
  • Improved immune system function
  • Decreased symptoms of other male and female hormone deficiencies ( such as testosterone)
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