DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone is a prohormone produced in the adrenal glands and testes. As a prohormone, it can be converted into testosterone and/or estrogens in various peripheral target tissues throughout the body.

Blood sample for DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) hormone test
Blood sample for DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) hormone test

However, plasma DHEA decreases about 80% between the ages of 25 and 75 years. This is determined by measuring the blood marker for measuring DHEA, called DHEA-S. DHEA-S levels were found to be significantly lower in men with aging male symptoms such as decreased sexual desire and dysfunction cites a study involving 348 male patients.

DHEA supplementation in older men and women demonstrated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study were 280 healthy men and women ages 69 to 79 were given 50 mg of DHEA or placebo daily for a year. The results were that supplementation reestablished “young” concentrations of DHEA-S and modestly increase testosterone and estradiol levels. The authors of this study concluded “that 50 mg of DHEA administration over one year normalized some effects of aging but does not create “Supermen or Superwomen”

As a prohormone, supplementation with DHEA appears to be relatively safe and effective. Nevertheless, there is value in assessing blood serum DHEA-S levels for individuals planning to use DHEA regulate prick. There is a particularly important population younger than 40 years of age who are more likely to have naturally higher levels of DHEA.

References: Journal of Endocrinology. 2005; 187:169-196.; Aging 2011; 3:533-542.; Urology 2005; 66:597-601; J Clin Endocrinol Metab, September 2013, 98(9):3615–3626.