DHEA: Are the Rumored Benefits Real?

DHEA (the abbreviation for dehydroepiandrosterone) is a steroid hormone that’s naturally produced in the body’s adrenal glands and women’s ovaries.

DHEA is needed for your body to produce testosterone and estrogen, and your body’s natural DHEA levels are known to peak in early adulthood but then slowly fall as you age.

A lot of rumors and marketing materials push supplementary DHEA as an age-defying elixir, but it’s important to separate truth and rumor when it comes to your health.

A female doctor with a stethoscope around her neck explains the benefits of DHEA to her female patient.

DHEA: Rumored Symptoms and Benefits

Limited research has linked insufficient DHEA to symptoms that mimic premature aging, which include:

  • A reduced sense of wellbeing
  • Lower energy levels and decreased feelings of vitality
  • Diminished all-around health
  • Lower libido
  • Decreased fertility
  • Forgetfulness and poor memory

Based on those associations, a synthetic form of DHEA was developed from wild yam or soy and is available as an oral or topical supplement. The supplement industry recommends DHEA to treat the above symptoms, but it also has made claims that DHEA supplementation will improve your overall health and ease the severity of chronic illnesses, such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Menopause
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Lupus
  • Adrenal insufficiency

DHEA supplementation is often advertised as providing the following potential benefits:

  • Improving adrenal gland function
  • Bolstering the immune system
  • Providing more energy
  • Improving mood and memory
  • Building up bone and muscle strength

Are the Rumors Surrounding DHEA True?

It’s tough to say.

Research studies that can directly and reliably show any benefits specifically attributable to DHEA supplementation are hard to find. There are associations and correlations between low or high DHEA levels and chronic symptoms or illnesses, but little evidence that a cause-and-effect relationship exists.

We in the medical industry do know that your body’s naturally produced DHEA functions as a precursor to the male and female sex hormones. It’s converted by your body’s natural processes into testosterone and estrogen.

However, if you’re suffering from the symptoms of hormone imbalance:

We aren’t really sure that DHEA deficiency or imbalance is the actual problem that needs to be treated.

If you put the list of supposed symptoms of DHEA imbalance next to a list of low testosterone symptoms (or estrogen imbalances, for that matter), you’d find they’re practically the same—fatigue, low libido, poor bone and muscle development, etc.

It’s far more likely that your body is experiencing imbalanced testosterone and estrogen levels, and this imbalance is actually causing your symptoms. After all, DHEA is converted by your body into those hormones, which are then used to power a number of bodily systems.

Identifying and Treating Your Hormone Imbalance

There’s really no need to rely on the precursor DHEA to convert itself into the right amounts of testosterone or estrogen to balance hormone levels and ease your symptoms—an unnecessarily roundabout approach to restoring hormonal health, considering direct treatment methods are readily available.

When any of your hormone levels are too high or too low in relation to the others, you will likely experience symptoms. It’s critical to identify the actual source of your trouble.

Testosterone or estrogen deficiencies can be identified by blood tests and then supplemented directly through Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), which produces better and faster relief from the unpleasant symptoms that you’re experiencing by directly restoring balance.

Testosterone Centers of Texas (TCT) offers a free consult to help you understand the root causes of your symptoms and develop a treatment plan that should relieve your symptoms and lead to a significant improvement in your quality of life.

The careful maintenance of safety and overall health while making treatment as convenient as possible—our commitment to you.

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(Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C

(Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C started his career in healthcare as a fireman/paramedic in West Texas where he served on the Midland Fire Department from 1998-2004.   He became interested in testosterone treatment after seeing how hormone replacement doctors helped those suffering from low testosterone.   After graduating from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Physician Assistant Program, he moved to DFW where he currently lives with his wife and three children.

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