What is DHEA and how does it help (or hinder) one’s fertility? DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced in our bodies, primarily the adrenal glands, sitting on top of our kidneys. Typically made from wild yam (and sometimes soy), DHEA is thought to be a precursor to hormones, mainly sex hormones for both men and women, including estrogen and testosterone. So will your estrogen or testosterone rise when you take it? Scientists still have inconclusive evidence about this supplement, and yet, because it declines in our twenties and seems to support hormonal production in some women, more and more fertility doctors and clinics are looking into it, and even recommending it.
Some people take it for anti-aging effects, and it is now being studied by the NIH to see if it can help with low bone density, heart disease, certain cancers, SEID (CFS), Chron’s, RA, mental health disorders, sexual disorders and egg quality & infertility. No EBM (evidence based medicine) or proof yet, but it could be promising in very small dosages with women who do not have PCOS who are under the age of 30 – not the group typically looking to take this supplement, typically. In one study it did seem to help middle aged people battle with depression, but so far there is little to no evidence that it can actually help egg quality. In one study out of Isreal, it helped some women, but ended up hindering over half the women in the study. More research clearly needs to be done.
Side effects include acne & oily skin, hair loss, GI problems, HBP, facial hair (in women), fatigue, deepening of the voice (in women), headaches, insomnia, heart issues and cholesterol problems, and nothing is yet known about the long terms effects of this chemical. Since it can raise hormone levels, many women see an increase in unwanted male hormone patterns, and vice versa with men, so please ask your fertility doctor, obgyn or holistic fertility practitioner first before taking this supplement, especially if you have a history of hormone-based cancers in the family, or have PCOS.