“Clinically, the use of DHEA has been shown to enhance ovarian reserve, support estrogen and testosterone and improve egg quality.”
“In addition to supplementation, there are many action steps that women can take to naturally support DHEA and overall hormone balance.”
In Part 1 of my series on DHEA we discussed the basics of DHEA and DHEA-S and what you might feel like if your DHEA is too low, or too high. In today’s article, we will continue this discussion by looking at DHEA supplementation.
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Let’s dive in!
DHEA Levels And Fertility
Let’s take a look at some of the ways DHEA supplementation has been used for women in the medical research.
Please note: I say supplementation when referring to DHEA because it is available over-the-counter, without a prescription. However, DHEA is a hormone and I urge you to work with myself or another knowledgeable practitioner when using hormone replacement.
What is DHEA used for? We will dive deep into DHEA fertility in just a moment, but first I want to point out some interesting research on DHEA and bone health. Remember that DHEA levels decline with age and that DHEA has the ability to convert to other sex hormones, notable estrogen and testosterone. As women enter the peri-menopause years, declining DHEA levels is one reason that estrogen declines – and estrogen, among its many benefits, is needed for bone health.
In addition, as women enter their 40s and beyond, DHEA may provide treatment or support for vaginal atrophy and help to improve libido and sexual function.
During the childbearing years, DHEA supplementation may be used as a fertility enhancer. When women come to me with fertility concerns, we take a comprehensive approach that includes nutrition, genetics and a deep dive into hormone balance.
Clinically, the use of DHEA has been shown to enhance ovarian reserve, support estrogen and testosterone and improve egg quality. A meta-analysis covering the research on DHEA and fertility showed an improvement in IVF (in vitro fertilization) success in women with diminished ovarian reserve and an increased likelihood of pregnancy. Interestingly, both DHEA and DHEA-S are needed for early brain development in the womb.
The DHEA supplements used in the fertility studies described above are typically 25 grams taken three times per day. However, many women will benefit from lower doses. Even 5 to 10mg per day of oral DHEA has provided positive results in my patients.
I always recommend hormone testing, either a DHEA blood test or more powerfully a comprehensive hormone panel such as the DUTCH test. It’s important to understand your unique hormone pattern so you can supplement correctly. Sometimes DHEA might be normal, and your symptoms can be attributed to something else.
DHEA side effects are typically quite minimal if there is, in fact, a DHEA deficiency. Some women might experience symptoms of high androgens with supplementation including oily skin, acne and facial hair growth, which is a clue that there is more going on with hormone balance that we need to uncover.
How Long Does It Take For DHEA Supplements To Work?
How long does it take for DHEA to work? This one of the most common questions that I receive from women about DHEA supplementation or any hormone replacement. Of course, we all want a quick fix, but I coach women to give DHEA supplementation around 3 months, or three full menstrual cycles, to observe any changes.
Since it takes an egg 90-120 days to fully develop, my fertility patients have seen improvements in just this short time frame.
How To Support DHEA Production, Naturally
In addition to supplementation, there are many action steps that women can take to naturally support DHEA and overall hormone balance. Here are some of my tips to get started on while you are waiting for hormone test results:
Here is a list of the sulfur-rich foods to include in your diet:
Evidence suggests that supplements including molybdenum, zinc and MSM are also helpful for improving sulfation and to support DHEA.
All hormones work together in a great symphony. If one is off, the others will be off too. It’s like a domino effect. This is why it’s so important to get to the bottom of your hormonal symptoms, and, for many women, DHEA is a part of the picture.
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