What Is DHEA Hormone? – Benefits And Side Effects


DHEA is a naturally occurring steroid hormone produced by our adrenal glands, which are located on the top of the kidney. DHEA is typically at its peak during the mid and late 20s and naturally drops after the age of 30.

These hormones serve as an indicator of testosterone and estrogen, both male and female hormones. DHEA expands for Dehydroepiandrosterone is typically a pro-hormone and once its level drops, people might have to take supplements.

DHEA supplements are often prescription based and are often prescribed to those dealing with vaginal tissue thinning. 

What Is The Benefit Of Taking DHEA Hormone?

The usage of DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) as a supplement is often associated with its benefits on hormonal balances and overall health benefits.

Although it is available as an over-the-counter supplement in many countries, it is better to approach it only under professional guidance. 

Here are some of the common uses of the DHEA Hormone supplement:

Hormonal Support

DHEA is a precursor to male and female hormones (testosterone and estrogen). In simpler words, it is a building block that our body usage to in order to build other hormones.

So, since DHEA is a precursor, our body may need it to support hormonal balance in case of deficiency or elevated levels.

Aging and Hormonal Decline

Since DHEA declines with age, some individuals may need DHEA supplements to slow down the signs of aging or reverse hormonal decline.

Bone Health

Although there’s limited research in this sector, some studies claim a correlation between DHEA and bone density. 

Muscle Buiding

DHEA supplement may be considered a pro-hormone to support muscle growth and recovery, especially amongst bodybuilders and athletes. However, the safety and effectiveness of this purpose are yet to be studied. 

Cognitive Function

There are limited studies suggesting a correlation between DHEA and cognitive health. 

DHEA Hormone Usage

DHEA Hormone Dosage

Determining the DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) Hormone supplement dosage can be complex. A healthcare professional considers a range of factors, including age, health, gender, and other requirements, before advising the dosage. 

Although DHEA Hormone supplement dosage should be strictly prescription-based (given its potential side effects), here is a general guideline:

  • Go Slow and Start Low: Although individual response and tolerance can differ when using a DHEA Hormone supplement, it is advisable to start with a low dosage and slow usage.
  • Focus on individualized approach: The common starting stage of DHEA Hormone supplements for adults is 25 to 50 milligrams per day. However, this cannot be a flat recommendation since the dosage can vary widely depending on an individual’s weight, age, health status, and other factors.
  • Depending upon health goals: The dosage may vary depending upon different approaches, from anti-aging effects to usage for improving athletic performance and more.

DHEA Hormone Benefits

Although the individual response may vary, DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) Hormone supplements have various potential benefits. Some of the common benefits include the following:

Anti-aging Effects

Based on DHEA’s role as a precursor to hormones, it may have certain anti-aging effects. 

Hormonal Balancing

Similarly, DHEA, being a precursor to hormones, can have a positive influence on testosterone and estrogen imbalances. However, the impact can differ for individuals, and the benefits aren’t promised for each and every one.

Immune System Support

Some evidence suggests a correlation between DHEA and improved immune functioning.

Improved Bone Density and Muscle Mass

Due to its association with anti-aging effects DHEA may help in improving bone density. It may even lower the risk of fractures along with bone disease/ disorders that come with aging. DHEA may also show improvement in muscle recovery after intense physical training.

Protection against Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

According to some studies, DHEA may improve emotional stability, thus reducing the chances of stress, anxiety, and depression. However, due to less evidence, the claims aren’t conclusive. 

Lowers Inflammation

DHEA supplements boast certain hormones and thus may prevent autoimmune reactions and lower inflammation.

Aids in Weight Loss

DHEA supplements may help boost metabolism, preventing muscle loss and weight/fat gain that often comes with age, especially amongst women.

Improves Libido

DHEA supplements may help in dealing with decreased libido and sexual dysfunctions.

Lowers the risk of Diabetes

DHEA supplements may have a potential role in glucose metabolism, and thus it is associated with lowering the risk of diabetes.

DHEA Hormone Side Effects

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) may have certain side effects, including the following:

  • Increased oiliness in the skin, especially facial skin.
  • Facial acne or even body acne sometimes.
  • Stomach pain, lose motions, and other gastrointestinal issues.
  • Abnormality in the menstrual cycle of women.
  • Mood swings or an impact on emotional well-being amongst menstruating women.
  • Facial hair growth, deeper voice, and other masculine changes amongst women.
  • Development of breast tissues (Gynecomastia) amongst men.
  • Abnormal breast growth amongst women.
  • Increase/ abnormal hair growth in the pubic area and armpit amongst both men and women.
  • Male pattern hair loss in both men and women.
  • High blood pressure/ hypertension regardless of the gender. 

Who Should Avoid DHEA Supplements?

  • Individuals under 30 can produce enough DHEA naturally and thus must avoid supplements.
  • DHEA supplements are typically not meant for women with breast cancer as they can increase estrogen levels associated with the risk. In fact, women with breast cancer in genetics must also avoid taking DHEA supplements.
  • DHEA supplements aren’t safe for men with prostate cancer or other similar conditions since the supplements can interfere with the treatment.
  • Pregnant and Breastfeeding women must avoid DHEA supplements.


Overall, DHEA is a common pro-hormone produced by both males and females. With age, particularly after 30, the production of DHEA may slow down, making supplements a choice for many.

However, DHEA supplements aren’t essential for everyone; thus, it is better to consult a gynecologist or an endocrinologist for professional guidance.

Despite its benefits, DHEA supplement is associated with certain short and long-term side effects and thus should be approached cautiously.


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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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