Dehydroepinadrosterone (DHEA)

Last Updated: March 11, 2017

Definition - What does Dehydroepinadrosterone (DHEA) mean?

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid that leads to the formation of estrogens and androgens (sex hormones). DHEA is normally produced in the body. DHEA has been found to improve outcomes in fertility including for those who have failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles and by lowering miscarriage rates. It is often used in combination with fertility regimens to improve outcomes.

FertilitySmarts explains Dehydroepinadrosterone (DHEA)

As women age, there is a decline in the ovarian reserve (the number and quality of eggs), which can lead to fertility issues. This decline is often in response to the normal aging process and decline in estrogen. DHEA is a precursor to the production of estrogen that has been shown to improve egg quality. The mechanism in which it does this is still unknown, but one theory is that it is ovarian environment that ages rather than the eggs themselves.

DHEA is taken by mouth as a supplement daily during fertility treatments. Common side effects may include acne, hair loss or unwanted growth, stomach upset, and changes in menstrual cycles. DHEA should not be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women. Patients with liver dysfunction, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure may worsen these conditions when taking DHEA.

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