When struggling to conceive, you may have done some research on fertility supplements for women. One notable fertility supplement is DHEA, a hormone that supports the cultivation of strong, healthy egg cells needed to reproduce. But you might have questions about the supplement. What is DHEA? What are typical doses like? Are there any side effects?
We’re here to answer all of those questions and more, and help you feel confident in incorporating fertility supplements into your routine on your journey to getting pregnant.
What is DHEA?
DHEA, also known as dehydroepiandrosterone (and thank goodness for that abbreviation), is a hormone naturally produced in the body by our adrenal glands, which are located above the kidneys. The adrenal glands make hormones that help to regulate functions throughout our bodies. In the case of DHEA, it acts to regulate the production of the reproductive hormones estrogen and testosterone. DHEA remains in plentiful supply in our bodies until about our mid-20s to 30s, when it begins to decrease rapidly. DHEA supplements help ensure the quality of eggs, as well as egg production. As such, taking a DHEA supplement when trying to get pregnant can be extremely helpful for those with diminishing natural DHEA levels, or low ovarian reserves.
How is DHEA Taken?
DHEA is typically taken in capsule form one to three times daily. Dosages start at 25 milligrams and are increased as needed. As with all supplements, it’s imperative to consult with your doctor before beginning to take DHEA to determine the right amount for you, as well as to make sure that it won’t interact with any existing medication you’re taking.
Positive DHEA Outcomes
Studies have shown DHEA to be incredibly helpful in increasing fertility in those trying to get pregnant. It is also a good supplement for those undergoing IVF, as it aids in egg production and quality, so a multitude of eggs can be harvested for a given IVF cycle. DHEA is also often combined with the antioxidant coenzyme Q10, which encourages proper cell division and differentiation for best results in increasing fertility. If you’ve been struggling to get pregnant, due to low ovarian reserve or other fertility issues, taking a DHEA supplement could benefit you and increase your chances of conception.
What are the Side Effects of DHEA?
While DHEA is generally considered a safe fertility supplement for women trying to conceive, as with any medication, there is a potential for side effects. Some of the most common side effects seen in women using DHEA to boost their fertility are:
- Generalized fatigue
- Mood changes
- Stomach upset
- Abnormal periods
- Deepening of the voice (due to increased testosterone)
- Oily skin
- Hormonal acne breakouts
- Weight gain
While side effects are typically mild, if present at all, it’s key to consider all of the possible outcomes a hormonal supplement like DHEA could have, and how they might impact your body.
Other Potential Risks of DHEA
- Possible Drug Interactions – Check with your doctor before starting a DHEA supplement to make sure it doesn’t have any history of interactions with medication you’re already taking. DHEA has been shown to poorly interact with certain blood thinners, other hormone therapy drugs, as well as medications for liver problems.
- Other Conditions – There are certain pre-existing conditions to consider before taking DHEA. If you suffer from any of the following, it’s typically advised to avoid DHEA supplements:
- Cholesterol issues
- High blood pressure
- Blood clotting problems
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Cancers (that impact sex hormones – breast, prostate, ovarian)
DHEA is a hormone naturally produced by the body that aids in the creation of the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, which are needed for reproduction. DHEA stores decrease as we age, as such, so do the levels of sex hormones. When trying to get pregnant, it’s key that the body produces enough of these hormones to develop healthy eggs and sperm. For women who have low ovarian reserve, which means that the quality and number of eggs in their uteruses has diminished, DHEA can help to boost egg cell production and health. DHEA can also be especially helpful for women undergoing the in vitro fertilization process, since multiple eggs must be harvested at a time for IVF to work. DHEA has also been shown to be increasingly successful when combined with other fertility supplements, like the antioxidant coenzyme Q10.
While DHEA is generally considered safe to add as a supplement to most fertility care regimes, it’s paramount to have a discussion with your doctor before taking it. Your doctor can advise on proper dosage, as well as make sure that DHEA doesn’t interact with any medications or supplements that you’re currently taking. If you suffer from a pre-existing condition, such as a sex hormone-based cancer or blood clotting issues, DHEA supplements may not be right for you.