DHEA Supplementation and Its Effects on Fertility

DHEA Supplementation

DHEA Supplementation © www.canva.com

Can DHEA supplementation enhance egg quality?” We will show you when Dehydroepiandrosterone can support you in getting pregnant.

A study from Scotland with 325 women shows that a woman in her 30s has already lost over 90% of her fertile eggs. By the age of 40, the egg supply has even shrunk to 3%. So far, we cannot do anything about this decline in eggs, but we can improve the quality of the existing eggs. An important hormone for improving egg quality is DHEA, which is used by many doctors in connection with fertility treatment. But can DHEA really help with getting pregnant? When and how should DHEA be taken? Is DHEA really safe or are there side effects? We will discuss all these questions in this post and show the pros and cons of DHEA for fertility.

What is DHEA?

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is produced in the adrenal gland and is the most common steroid hormone in the human body. It is the precursor to both female and male sex hormones. In women, DHEA is mainly involved in the formation of testosterone and estrogen. In general, DHEA therapy is used to strengthen the immune system, regulate fat metabolism, improve memory and concentration, improve sleep, build muscle mass, and strengthen bones. DHEA is used during the fertility period to improve egg quality.

DHEA test and normal values

The DHEA value can be tested in a gynecological practice together with other hormones. Usually, a blood test of DHEA-S, a precursor of DHEA, is performed, which can be detected more easily and reliably. There is also a DHEA saliva test for home use in Germany, which is usually less accurate and less informative compared to blood tests.

Age Group Reference Range (µg/dL)
15-19 years 65.1 to 368
20-24 years 148 to 407
25-34 years 98.8 to 340
35-44 years 60.9 to 337


DHEA if you want to have children – is it worth it?

If you have been diagnosed with a DHEA deficiency by your gynecologist, it may make sense to undergo guided hormone therapy with DHEA.

#1 Increased chances of pregnancy with DHEA 

In a study of 140 women who had prepared for an IVF for 12 weeks, the pregnancy rate of women with and without DHEA supplementation was examined. As a result, the DHEA group achieved a significantly higher pregnancy rate of 28.5% than the group without DHEA (12.8%). This result has already been confirmed in several studies on the subject of unfulfilled desire to have children in combination with modern methods of reproductive medicine. In another review study, it was even shown that the pregnancy rate in women over 40 doubled with DHEA treatment.

#2 Reduced miscarriage rate with DHEA supplementation

Now, if it is really true that DHEA improves egg quality, then a lower miscarriage rate should also be observed under DHEA supplementation. This exact result can be seen, for example, in a study of 73 women preparing for an IVF. Here, only about 15% of the women had a miscarriage. This is significantly less than with an IVF treatment without DHEA supplementation, where the number of miscarriages is usually between 20 and 25%.

#3 Improved follicle maturation

In a study, IVF patients were prescribed 25 mg of oral, micronized DHEA three times a day for about four months. Subsequently, the number of eggs, fertilization and pregnancy rates were examined. The study clearly showed that the number of eggs available for treatment improved, especially.

Does taking DHEA have side effects?

It is important to note that DHEA should never be taken without a test and medical or naturopathic guidance. Incorrect dosages of DHEA can lead to numerous unpleasant side effects, including oily skin, acne, or thickening of the skin, and even hair loss. Other side effects may include stomach upset, high blood pressure, changes in menstrual cycle, facial hair growth in women, deepening of the voice in women, and fatigue.

Is stress the cause of a high DHEA level?

We know that with persistent acute psychosocial stress, cortisol is increasingly formed in the adrenal gland due to an increased ATCH. This ATCH is also a precursor of DHEA-S as it occurs in the female body when trying to conceive. Thus, an elevated DHEA level is usually associated with an increased stress level. Studies have shown that the addition of increased DHEA in rats can stimulate inflammation and oxidative stress. As a result, cysts formed in the ovaries. For this reason, many scientists believe that a permanently high DHEA level could be associated with PCOS. Women with PCOS should therefore always discuss the intake of DHEA with their doctor, as DHEA can potentially worsen the disease.

How do I know if my DHEA dosage is too high?

A specialist will always keep an eye on the testosterone level in addition to the normal values of DHEA due to the connections with stress and PCOS. The typical normal values for testosterone in adult women are between 0.15–0.6 ng/ml (0.5–2.0 nmol/l). Acne often forms as a result of too high testosterone levels, so overdosing can also be physically visible ¹.

How do I know if my DHEA dosage is too low?

Generally, the DHEA level should be determined by a gynecologist or a gynecologist in a gynecological practice together with other relevant hormones. However, symptoms such as lack of drive, weight gain, loss of libido, loss of mental performance, fatigue, sleep disorders, and depression are more common with DHEA deficiency ¹. If the DHEA level is actually permanently too low, the cortisol level is usually also determined in a medical practice to rule out an adrenal hormone disorder (NNR insufficiency).

When should DHEA be taken?

Of course, you should always follow the instructions of the respective treating doctor, as each case is individual. However, the capsules are usually taken in the morning, about 30 minutes before breakfast, on an empty stomach. There are usually no interactions with other medications. The highest concentration of DHEA is measured about four hours after taking DHEA.

How can I buy DHEA?

In many countries, DHEA is prescription-only and can only be obtained with a doctor’s prescription. From our point of view, this is understandable when you consider the number of possible side effects with incorrect use. However, DHEA is available over the counter as a dietary supplement in other countries. However, we can only advise you to seek medical or naturopathic advice before use. Only in this way can correct use be ensured ³.


DHEA is an important hormone when it comes to unfulfilled desire to have children. Especially at the age of 30 or older, a DHEA test makes sense if you have been wanting to have a baby for a while. After all, a DHEA deficiency could be the cause of unfulfilled desire to have children and more frequent miscarriages, among other things. The dosage and individual guidance should be done by experts who make a recommendation based on the available test results. DHEA can demonstrably positively influence the pregnancy rate, egg quality, and follicle maturation. It is also an important hormone for preventing miscarriages. Not only in preparation for IVF, but also during the time of desire to have children, DHEA supplementation can be useful because every woman needs good eggs during this time. In this sense, we wish you all the best on your way to your desired child.


This information is provided to the best of our knowledge and belief. They are intended exclusively for interested parties and for further education and are by no means to be understood as diagnostic or therapeutic instructions. We assume no liability for any damage of any kind that arises directly or indirectly from the use of the information. If you suspect illness, please consult your doctor, healer, or alternative practitioner.


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[4] Gleicher, N., Barad, D.H. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation in diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). Reprod Biol Endocrinol 9, 67 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1186/1477-7827-9-67
[5] Li Y, Zheng Q, Sun D, Cui X, Chen S, Bulbul A, Liu S, Yan Q. Dehydroepiandrosterone stimulates inflammation and impairs ovarian functions of polycystic ovary syndrome. J Cell Physiol. 2019 May;234(5):7435-7447. doi: 10.1002/jcp.27501. Epub 2018 Dec 23. PMID: 30580448.


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