DHEA is a hormone that is naturally made by the body. DHEA works in the body to make other male and female sex hormones within the body. A prescription DHEA product is available to treat thinning of vaginal tissue.

People use DHEA supplements for slowing signs of aging, improving muscle strength and athletic performance, inability to become pregnant within a year of trying to conceive (infertility), and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.


Is a Form of:


Primary Functions:

Slowing signs of aging

Also Known As:

Androstenolone, Dehydroepiandrosterone, Déhydroépiandrostérone, DHEA-S, GL701, Prasterone

How Does It Work?

DHEA is a "hormone" naturally made in the body by the adrenal glands near the kidneys and by the liver. DHEA helps to make male and female sex hormones within the body.

DHEA levels seem to go down as people get older. DHEA levels seem to be lower in people with depression, postmenopausal women and many other conditions.


  • Thinning of vaginal tissue (vaginal atrophy).The walls of the vagina can become thinner after menopause. This can cause pain during sex. Using vaginal inserts containing DHEA can reduce pain during sex by up to 15% in women after menopause. A prescription DHEA product is available for this condition.
  • Aging skin. Some research shows that taking DHEA by mouth or applying it to the skin might improve skin appearance in women after menopause and in people over the age of 60 years.
  • Depression. Some research shows that taking 30-500 mg of DHEA by mouth daily improves symptoms of depression. Lower doses do not seem to help. Some experts recommend DHEA for depression if more common medications don't work.
  • Inability to become pregnant within a year of trying to conceive (infertility). Most research shows that taking DHEA for 2 to 3 months before in-vitro fertilization (IVF) might improve the chances of pregnancy and having a baby. However, other research shows that taking DHEA does not seem to prevent miscarriage in women that have had IVF. It isn't known if taking DHEA helps women get pregnant without IVF.

Recommended Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For aging skin: 50 mg of DHEA taken daily for 1 year.
  • For depression: 30-500 mg of DHEA taken daily for 6-8 weeks, either alone or together with antidepressant drugs.
  • For inability to become pregnant within a year of trying to conceive (infertility): 75 mg of DHEA taken daily for 2-3 months before and during IVF treatment.


  • For aging skin: A 1% DHEA cream has been applied to the face and hands twice daily for up to 4 months.


  • For thinning of vaginal tissue (vaginal atrophy): Vaginal inserts containing 0.25% to 1% DHEA have been used once daily for 12 weeks. A specific vaginal insert containing 0.5% DHEA (Intrarosa, Endoceutics Inc.) is a prescription medicine used for this condition.

DHEA Supplements Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of taking DHEA?

 A number of studies have found that DHEA supplements may help people with depression, obesity, lupus, and adrenal insufficiency. DHEA may also improve skin in older people and help treat osteoporosis, vaginal atrophy, erectile dysfunction, and some psychological conditions.

Is it safe to take DHEA supplements?

Regarding time frame, a dose of 50 mg per day has been safely used for one year, and 25 mg per day has safely been used for two years. Generally, DHEA supplements have been safely used in studies for up to two years without severe side effects ( 26 , 47 ).

How long does DHEA take to work?

BY MOUTH: For aging skin: 50 mg of DHEA taken daily for 12 months has been used. For depression: 30-450 mg of DHEA taken daily for 6 weeks has been used, either alone or together with antidepressant drugs. DHEA has also been used in increasing doses up to 500 mg daily for 8 weeks.

Why is DHEA banned?

The World Anti-Doping Agency classes DHEA as a banned substance in sports. Eating yams and soy does not increase DHEA in the body. DHEA has been tested for use in many diseases, including depression, osteoporosis, and lupus, but there is little evidence to confirm its benefits.

Does DHEA cause weight gain?

Side Effects

May increase the risk of developing prostate, breast, ovarian, uterine, or cervical cancer and malignant melanoma or other hormonally-affected cancers. Hormonal side effects can be significant, including acne, skin changes, excess hair or hair loss, increased sweating, and weight gain.

What does DHEA do for females?

DHEA is both a natural hormone and popular supplement that can affect the levels of other hormones in your body. It has been studied for its potential to increase bone density, decrease body fat, improve sexual function and correct some hormonal problems.

Does DHEA affect sleep?

Melatonin and DHEA interact to control production of the other. When melatonin is highest, NREM sleep occurs; when DHEA increases slightly during sleep to maintain brainstem function, REM sleep occurs. During sleep, DHEA is low to reduce stimulation of the CNS, so sleep may occur.

Does DHEA increase estrogen?

Since DHEA can increase the level of both testosterone and estrogen, women who use DHEA can sometimes experience such side effects as: Voice changes. Hair loss.

Is DHEA a steroid?

DHEA is an endogenous steroid hormone, produced by the adrenal glands, gonads, and brain. Its role is not fully understood, but it plays an important part in the synthensizing estrogen and androgen.

What time of day should you take DHEA?

Replacement consists of a single oral dose of 25–50 mg DHEA in the morning. However, not all investigators have found effects of DHEA on well-being, most likely because of small sample size and short duration of treatment.

Does DHEA cause hair loss?

Since DHEA can increase the level of both testosterone and estrogen, women who use DHEA can sometimes experience such side effects as: Voice changes. Hair loss. Growth of facial hair.

Can DHEA cause anxiety?

May cause agitation, delusions, nervousness, irritability, or psychosis and may induce hypomanic, aggressive, psychotic, or disinhibited behavior. In people with bipolar disorder, DHEA should be used with caution and only in low doses because it can exacerbate mania, irritability, and aggression.

Is DHEA bad for your liver?

High cholesterol: DHEA might lower "good cholesterol". Liver problems: DHEA might make liver problems worse. Do not use DHEA if you have liver problems. Depression and mood disorders: DHEA might cause excitability, impulsiveness, and irritability in people with mood disorders.

Is DHEA worth taking?

For young, healthy individuals, taking DHEA is probably not necessary. This hormone is produced naturally in the body, and more of it is not necessarily better. However, supplementing with DHEA may benefit some individuals, specifically older adults and those with certain adrenal, sexual or fertility problems.

What foods contain DHEA?

There are no food sources of DHEA. Wild yams contain a substance similar to DHEA that is used to make DHEA in the laboratory. The body manufactures DHEA naturally in the adrenal glands.

Does DHEA help with anxiety?

Initial research on DHEA supplementation (DHEA-S) in schizophrenia patients shows some benefits in the management of anxiety and depressive symptoms. ... DHEA and circulating sex hormones (endogenous and exogenous) have also been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease.

What are the symptoms of too much DHEA?

Possible side effects of DHEA supplements can include:

  • Oily skin and acne, as well as skin thickening.
  • Hair loss.
  • Stomach upset.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Changes in menstrual cycle.
  • Facial hair in women.
  • Deepening of the voice in women.

When should you take DHEA morning or night?

The starting dose is 25 (–50) mg DHEA/day given as a single oral dose in the morning, and the intended treatment duration should be a minimum of 4–6 months.

Is DHEA good for menopause?

DHEA May Help Sex, Symptoms After Menopause. Dec. 20, 2011 -- Low-dose DHEA works as well as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease menopausal symptoms and to improve women's sex lives, a small pilot study suggests. DHEA is a hormone widely available in the U.S. as a dietary supplement.

Can DHEA cause weight loss?

DHEA didn't produce dramatic weight loss. People taking the hormone lost, on average, about 2 pounds, while those taking the placebo gained a little more than 1 pound. ... Interestingly, the study also showed that DHEA increases the levels of testosterone in women, but not in men.

Who should take DHEA?

Why do people take DHEA?

  • A number of studies have found that DHEAsupplements may help people with depression, obesity, lupus, and adrenal insufficiency. ...
  • Low DHEAlevels are associated with aging and a number of diseases, such as anorexia, type 2 diabetes, and HIV.

Clinical Studies