More Thoughts on DHEA

I wanted to share more side effect information about DHEA, which I don't think I've shared fully.

In retrospect, I feel I was a bit cavalier in my attitude when I first started taking it.  I only took in the positive benefits I was reading and didn't look deeply enough at the potential side effects.  

For me, I believe 75 mg is too high a dosage.  I started at 50 and went up to 75 about a month ago because this was the dose used in the successful oft-quoted fertility study (the only major study done so far, I believe, so it's not been shown that high of dose is needed).  And part of me was also probably just wanting to increase my chances any way I could, after several months of BFNs.

But my body did not like the higher level.  This was the worst month of PMS I've ever had, and I've definitely been more tired and irritable even outside of that.  Acne, yep, increase in that too.  

So, I'm lowering back down to 50 and plan to talk to the doctor about it as soon as possible.  I don't want to stop and lose the gains I've built up the past three months, but I want to respect the impact it has on my body.  The higher pregnancy/lower miscarriage rates are nothing to sneeze at but neither are the side effects:
One of the more common side effects of DHEA supplements is acne. Other side effects includeinsomnia, fatigue, oily skin, abdominal pain, hair loss, nasal congestion, rapid or irregular heartbeats and heart palpitations.
DHEA supplements may alter liver function, so people with liver disease shouldn't use the hormone. People with mood disorders (such as depression) should only use DHEA under the supervision of their healthcare provider, as DHEA supplementation may worsen mood. High levels of the body's natural DHEA has been associated with psychotic disorders, so people with or at risk for psychotic disorders shouldn't use DHEA unless under the supervision of their healthcare provider.
Since DHEA supplements may influence the production of male and female hormones, acne, greasy skin, facial hair growth, hair loss, weight gain around the waist, a deepening of the voice and other signs of masculinization may occur in women. 


  1. Hi Kristina,
    I found your blog through another as also a single TTC. Intriguing post for me! I went through IUIs, IUI w injectibles and even IVF/ICSI/Assisted Hatching with no luck. (I'm 33) For IVF #2, I was doing DHEA supplements and was canceled again after my body did not do well with the BCPs beforehand and they did a full work up and for the first time EVER PCOS was mentioned. I never had long/irregular cycles/anovulation/etc. Now my body is still very messed up - I blame a good part on DHEA and the other meds for IVF throwing me off. My RE just says PCOS (although day of the blood draw I took DHEA) and not retesting because he's only looking at getting me to cycle again and my personal journey to carry is over since too high risk. Definitely there are side effects that need to be carefully thought through! Best of luck!!!

  2. Kristina,

    Sorry for taking so long to respond and to comment on your blog. (I love the new look by the way.)

    Everyone responds differently on DHEA from what I've read so its hard to predict how anyone is going to respond. I've read blogs/forums where women had significant improvement on DHEA and others who did not.

    During the first month, I noticed an increase in my facial skin oil. After the second month, my skin started breaking out with acne like I was 13 again! But, my AMH improved from 2.3 to 3.2, so I'm not complaining. I'm not sure my improvement can solely be laid on DHEA as my RE asked me what I was taking because of the improvement. He was already recommending his patients take melatonin, inositol, Co Q10 and DHEA but he added L-Arginine to the mix after he confirmed that I was also taking it.

    My egg retrieval is this Friday, and currently, it looks like I'll produce more eggs than previous cycles. But, I'm more concerned about quality as that was an issue for me last cycle. So, the jury is still out.

  3. I came across DHEA on various message boards and many women had seen good resutls. I did some research online and read the same list of side effects that you cite above. Frankly, I got a bit scared, so never went down that path.

  4. BTW -- I like the new look of the blog :-)

  5. Wow, sending you lots of good thoughts for the retrieval, Jendo! I need to look into L'Arginine. I hear you on the teenage acne!
    I am sorry for your struggles, Masha. :( Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm going to get some testing done in the next few weeks.
    Thanks Sunflower, glad you like the blog changes! :)