DHEA – Can It Improve Your Fertility Over 40?
Hi there everyone. I get questions all the time about this specific hormone, and if you should be taking it to improve your fertility. Well, today, I’m going to talk all about DHEA and if it can improve your fertility, your egg quality, especially if you’re over 40. So if you want more information on this, make sure to keep watching.
Hi. I’m Dr. Marc Sklar, the fertility expert, and I work with couples from all over the world, helping you get pregnant naturally. If you want more of my support on your fertility journey, then make sure that you subscribe to this YouTube channel right here so that I can support you to get pregnant naturally. One question that I have for all of you as we discuss DHEA is, are you taking it? I want to hear from all of you. Comment below. Let me know if you’re taking it, or if you’ve ever thought about taking DHEA, and if you’ve had a positive or negative experience with supplementing with DHEA.
Before I get into it, I want to quickly announce that my fertility coaching program to work with me and my team one-on-one is open. If you want me as your fertility coach to help you get pregnant naturally, and I want you to use the link below in the description to apply to qualify to work with me and my team. This program is by application only. If you qualify, we’ll notify you so that you can start working with me and my team. So remember use the link below in the description to apply to qualify to work with me and my team. And now let’s get on to the video talking about DHEA.
So the first most important question when we’re talking about DHEA is, what is it? So many of my followers have questions about it, but they don’t really understand what DHEA is and how it works. So that’s where we’re going to start. DHEA is actually a precursor hormone, meaning it’s a hormone that feeds into other hormones, and it is a male reproductive hormone, but it’s also found in both men and women. The interesting thing also here is that DHEA is not just a reproductive hormone. It’s also a hormone that is released by our adrenal glands when we’re regulating the adrenal response or the stress response.
DHEA is one of the most abundant hormones found in the body. And something that’s also interesting is that we release a lot more of it when we’re under stress. And on top of that, as we age, our body produces less of it. So it would make sense that on our fertility journey, as we get older and we want more DHEA to support and improve egg quality and egg production, that as we’re getting older, that production naturally in the body is lower, so we don’t have as much of it to support our ovarian reserve and egg quality. And that’s why we’re talking about it today so that we can figure out what we can do, and if it’s the right supplementation for you.
So, one thing I want to show you, I’m going to switch from one computer, which is my notes to another, is how DHEA functions in the body. And I’m hoping that you all can see this right here. There is a little bit of a glare from my lights. But basically… I’ll get a little bit closer. You can see right here that DHEA is right there. Okay? It’s precursor to that is pregnenolone and above that is actually cholesterol. We often think of cholesterol as a bad thing, but cholesterol is not always bad. Cholesterol’s an important piece and an important fat that feeds our other hormones. So if we’re not getting enough good healthy fats, then we’re not able to feed our hormones properly.
Well, cholesterol feeds into pregnenolone, and then pregnenolone feeds into DHEA and DHEA gets converted into testosterone. And if we come down this line, we can see our androgen levels over here. And over here, we see that it can be converted and feed into estrogen, our E1 and our E2. So DHEA is an important hormone in so many respects, as we talk about hormone regulation, how our hormones balance and support one another and feed into one another, and how it can support egg quality and ovarian reserve. So yes. DHEA is an important hormone for overall reproductive health and something that we should all consider as we are thinking more about our ovarian health and egg quality.
So as I just mentioned, DHEA feeds into testosterone. Right? Into the androgens. Well, I want to read you this quote because there’s no reason to create another explanation for it, if there’s one already written that sounds perfect. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to read you one of the quotes that really exemplifies why DHEA can be an important piece to your fertility journey. It says, “When DHEA is converted in the body into testosterone, the additional testosterone restores the ovarian environment to its youthful state.” That’s what we all want. Right? “Thereby improving the quality of eggs that go through the maturation process in the restored environment.”
This is so important. We’re restoring our ovarian health to a youthful state by supplementing with DHEA. If you were going into a… There’s all these medical clinics, at least here in the U.S. about anti-aging. Right? And restoring youthfulness. Well, many of them, if you went in, would test your DHEA levels and probably put you on DHEA because it helps to restore our youthful nature regardless of what age were in. And this is exactly what we’re trying to do, but just in our ovaries. So this is what we can kind of talk about ovarian rejuvenation with a supplement. Okay? That sounds really nice. Doesn’t it?
So even though that sounds really nice to kind of get into restoring your ovarian health and the youthfulness of your reproductive organs, DHEA has a lot of other beneficial qualities. And I’m going to read you them from my notes. Okay? So DHEA’s beneficial effects for female fertility, we’re not talking about men here, is that it can increase IVF pregnancy rates, that’s awesome. Higher chance of spontaneous conception, even better. Right? Shorter time to pregnancy. So we don’t have as long of a time to get pregnant. Who wouldn’t want that?
Higher number of eggs and embryos in an IVF cycle, improved egg quality, and embryo quality in IVF cycles, lower risk of miscarriage, lower rate of chromosomal abnormalities in embryos and higher cumulative pregnancy rates in patients undergoing fertility treatments. This all sounds amazing and wonderful. Doesn’t it? Right? Who doesn’t want all of these? So then why shouldn’t everybody be on it? So then really comes down the question is, who should be taking it? Well, this actually begs a different question. I’m going to answer that question first, which is who should be taking it, and then we’re going to get into a little bit deeper of an explanation when it comes to that.
So those of you who should be considering this comes down to a couple of key factors. Advanced maternal age. So you’re of older age, 35 to 40 and older, especially if you’re 40 and older. And those with premature ovarian failure. Your ovaries have aged quicker than they should have. And those are the two main categories that I think of at the top of the list for those who should consider taking DHEA. Obviously if you test your DHEA levels and they’re low, then that would basically also push you into this category as well. But most of you watching, and most of you who take DHEA have taken it on your own volition, meaning you’ve never had it tested, no one’s prescribed it and no one’s guided you with it.
And this to me is a concern, which really goes back to the next question which is, how much should you take? And that goes to another question, which is, well, how do you test it? I’m going to start with the latter one first. How do you test for DHEA? So testing comes down to two main ways, but the most practical way for most of you watching is a serum blood test for DHEAS. That’s right. You want to make sure it has the S under it to get the most accurate one. And so with that, that is just a simple blood draw, you’ll have it tested, and we’ll see where your levels are at.
Once you have those levels, then we know, or your healthcare provider will know how to guide you best on taking DHEA. I am not a fan of any of you taking it without having these levels tested. DHEA, as wonderful as it sounds with everything I just said, also has side effects, which I’ll get into in a little bit, that make me question and raise a little concern, if all of you should be taking it. And it should raise a concern for all of you, because it is a hormone and does affect a lot of different other hormones in your reproductive system. And so it shouldn’t just be taken casually. It should be something that should be measured and then determined by you and your team, how much you want to be taking.
Now where we want your DHEA levels to be at is at 180 or higher. Often I use 200 as my threshold, it’s just an easier number to work with. The lower that number is, the more we need it, and potentially the more of a dosage we’re going to give. But there is a threshold when it comes to dosing for DHEA. The research has shown and has talked about dosing at 75 milligrams of DHEA per day in divided doses. So 25, three times a day.
Now that sounds great if your DHEA is really low and certainly below normal. But it’s not something that I just run to for everybody. And I know many of you are thinking or have thought, “Well, I’m just going to take what the research shows and that should be fine.” That may be okay, but again, I don’t want you all to think that this is the right thing to do. DHEA is a powerful hormone. In many countries around the world, you can’t get it over the counter. In the United States you can, but in many countries it needs to be a prescription. So that shows you how strong it can be and also how dangerous potentially it can be.
So I don’t recommend everybody just run out and get 75 milligrams of DHEA to take per day. This is something that needs to be determined for each one of you individually. Right? And one of the ways that I determined that for all of you is actually with the test that I just showed you earlier. It’s this test right here. This is a Dutch test. Right? That’s where I showed you how things progress with the cascade of hormones. Well, this Dutch test tells me so much information. One, it tells me what your DHEAS levels are. Two, it tells me how your body is using all of those hormones, your androgens, your testosterone, your estrogens. It’s telling me all that information.
So in determining how much of a dosage you should be taking for DHEA, that helps me more than the serum. So that’s why I recommend both tests, because it’s going to give me a more complete understanding of what your DHEA levels are, how your body is using your hormones, and then to the next phase of how much you should be taking. As we’re determining dosage, we also have to consider other hormones, which is why that Dutch test is so important for me and why when I order DHEA for the couples that I coach, I might also be running other hormones like testosterone, both free and total, and sex hormone binding globulin.
Because the published research by the Center for Human Reproduction has shown that women with diminished ovarian reserve tend to have abnormally low androgen levels. Right? And so we want to know what those levels are and that a good androgen level is essential to the development of eggs in the ovaries, which is also why we’re supplementing potentially with DHEA. And so DHEA supplementation helps these patients raise their androgen levels within their ovarian environment to a normal range, thus supporting a better quality egg and embryo. So this is key as we determine our dosage rate for all of you.
So yes. Is supplementation potentially important for many of you or all of you watching? Yes. But the dosage is the key thing here. And it’s not just the dosage of DHEA or the level of DHEA, but it’s also the level of your other androgens to determine how much DHEA you need to support a better quality egg and embryo. And this is why everything needs to be so individualized. This is also why you don’t just test once, you’ve got to follow that level, and why you’ve got to adjust it over time to accommodate for the progress, the higher levels of DHEA and a normal healthy cycle.
So then it’s not just a matter of how much should I take, but the next question is, how long should I take it for? And this is really, really important. Why is it important? Because I can tell you one, two variables that happen. One is so many patients are given DHEA right before their IVF cycle. “Oh. We’re starting in two weeks,” or “We’re starting in four weeks, start taking DHEA now.” And then others have been on it for so long. Right? They’ve been on DHEA for months and months and months without ever checking or monitoring their progress. So the research does show that you want to be on it at least six to eight weeks to get the best benefits of it.
But even beyond that, to get the peak effectiveness of DHEA, it actually peaks at somewhere between 16 to 20 weeks. That’s right. You heard me correct. 16 to 20 weeks. So why would you just take it for two weeks and expect the results that they say you should get from it? Or why should you take it for four weeks and expect the results that they say you should get from it, when you might not even get that after six or eight weeks, which is the bare minimum of where you should be at? Right? So the key here is individualization. First and foremost is testing to determine how much you need, and then being on it long enough to get the beneficial results from it, and testing while you’re on it, so that you know what your levels are doing and if the dosage needs to be adjusted.
I’ve given couples as low as five milligrams or 10 per day of DHEA and some as high as 75. But everybody doesn’t need the same amount, and that is key here when we’re talking about DHEA. We can’t make generalizations just like in everything else. DHEA is no different. And in many cases, it’s actually more important that you know what’s going on with DHEA and you watch these levels more carefully because of the potential side effects that it might cause which we’ll get into now.
So what are the potential side effects of DHEA? Well, excessive amounts of DHEA, or as you start to take it, it can cause oily skin, increased acne, especially the cystic acne, more hair growth and irregular cycles or amenorrhea. These are all different variations of side effects that DHEA can give. Now, for many of you taking it, I’m not going to worry too much about the oily skin or the acne, but as we start to see more excessive hair growth, that’s a concern for me. Right? Because I don’t want any of you to have that, and that’s showing more androgen levels increasing.
And especially if it starts to throw off your cycles, they become irregular or you don’t have any, then I’m really concerned. And I have seen this in couples and women that I’ve worked with. So you have to recognize this is a possibility, and if you’re not careful, this absolutely can and will happen to you. Okay? So we do need to be mindful of those side effects. And it’s because of those side effects, because I certainly don’t want anyone to have an irregular cycle or no cycle at all, that I am very careful about DHEA.
I don’t prescribe it to anybody unless I’ve had those levels tested. And I don’t suggest any of you start doing it unless you know what your levels are at. And work with someone who can help determine how much you should be taking. Also another caveat here or concern is if any one of you watching has PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome, then taking DHEA first and foremost is a no-no. And for sure you have to understand how your other androgen levels are looking like before you even consider taking DHEA. And that’s not something I usually go forward with, with anyone who has PCOS. Because those of you with PCOS are more prone to have higher androgen levels, have cystic acne, oily skin, unwanted facial and body hair, and this is just going to make that worse.
You potentially already have an irregular cycle or no cycle at all, this is potentially just going to make that worse. So if you have PCOS, DHEA is a no-go for any of you. Okay? And this is also why it’s so important for you to be working with a healthcare provider who can understand your situation, your specific health and reproductive needs and your hormone labs to interpret them to determine what you need as an individual. And DHEA is no different. One of the things that we didn’t discuss in this video so far is how DHEA is affected by stress and adrenal response. So I want to talk about that right now, how stress can impact DHEA levels.
When you’re under more stress, your adrenal glands release more hormones. One of the main hormones that it actually releases is DHEA. And that can cause an increased amount of DHEA production in the body. Well, that is important to understand because that will affect your cycles potentially as well, and certainly your DHEA levels. Right? Especially for those of you who have PCOS, this is also a contributing factor as to why stress can impact your cycles and the ability for you to control your cycles and your PCOS symptoms more because of this DHEA variable.
So the other benefit of doing the Dutch test is it also gives you a cortisol rhythm, which is your stress response and allows you to monitor and see your cortisol levels and how DHEA is being affected by your stress levels. So it gives us a lot of useful information. If those of you who are out there who’ve never considered doing a Dutch test, I would consider it along with your serum blood work, because it gives us a more comprehensive understanding of what your hormones look like and how we can support those to improve your fertility.
Okay. That was a lot of information, hopefully a lot of good information for all of you and something that you all can now start to understand a little bit more clearly and how important DHEA is for your fertility and reproductive health, and how careful you need to be, more importantly, with it, and what you need to do to determine how, and if you should be using it in your fertility protocols. So my suggestion for all of you is to work with a healthcare provider and a team to better understand your hormones, your fertility needs, your DHEA needs to get you the best results on your fertility journey.
Again, if you want more help from me and my team, then you can use the link below in the description to apply, to see if you qualify to work with my team. And you do that by setting up a discovery call. Again, that link is below, but you’ve got to qualify to work with me and my team. Just remember that. All right. Thank you so much for watching. Hopefully you’ve found this very, very useful. I can’t wait to get all of your comments about this topic below in the comment section. So please post your questions and post your comments there. I look forward to answering those as well. Until the next video, I want you all to stay healthy, stay safe, and most of all, stay fertile.