DHEA Health Benefits and Side Effects

| Modified on Jun 07, 2023
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DHEA is a steroid hormone produced by the human body. However, the amount the body produces decreases during the aging process. Supplementing with DHEA can be an effective natural remedy to promote weight loss, increase muscle mass, improve low libido, and heal inflammatory conditions.

What is DHEA?

DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone, is produced in the adrenal glands and the brain. It is a precursor for estrogen and androgen hormones. After the age of 30, the production of DHEA by the body begins decreasing, with this decrease more pronounced in women. Certain medications like hormonal birth control pills and steroids can reduce DHEA in the body. Antidepressant medication may also reduce DHEA levels in the body. Stress levels can adversely affect DHEA levels.

When hormone levels are properly balanced, overall health tends to be stable. When hormone levels get out of whack, a cascade of health problems can result.

If a DHEA supplement is used and hormone balance is restored, many health problems can be resolved including the following:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • IBS
  • Infertility
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Low libido
  • Poor skin tone
  • Vaginal atrophy

When DHEA and other hormone levels are properly balanced it is easier to lose weight and increase muscle mass.

How is DHEA Used?

DHEA is commonly taken as an oral supplement. Typical supplements contain between 25 and 50 milligrams of DHEA, although some supplements contain as little as 5 milligrams and others as much as 100 milligrams. Creams containing DHEA are used on the face to improve skin tone and reduce wrinkles. DHEA suppositories are used vaginally for vaginal atrophy.

DHEA Side Effects

If a supplement like DHEA can benefit so many health problems and reduce the effects of aging, who wouldn’t want to take it?

Unfortunately, it isn’t so simple. Hormonal processes in the body are complicated. Changing the level of one hormone affects other hormones. This is why hormone balance is so important. And it is a delicate balance. More is certainly not always better, especially in the case of DHEA.

Before supplementing with DHEA it is wise to have testing done to see if that is actually necessary. Follow up testing will ensure that supplementing with DHEA is creating a proper balance and not an imbalance in DHEA and other hormones.

While DHEA can be obtained without a prescription, caution should be taken when using DHEA without blood work monitoring. Side effects from too much DHEA can be just as distressing as the health problems that may come with too little DHEA.

DHEA can cause the following side effects:

Side Effects in Women:

  • Oily skin
  • Facial hair growth
  • Thinning hair
  • Deepening voice
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Decreased breast size

Side Effects in Men:

  • Aggression
  • Decreased testes size
  • Increase in breast size or tenderness

Additional Side Effects:

  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia

DHEA could interact with other medications including medications that regulate hormones. It could also affect medications for depression, diabetes, pain and other health conditions. If you take prescription medications, discuss any new supplements with your doctor or pharmacist.

Have you used DHEA for your health? Please share your experience with us!


1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/dhea/background/hrb-20059173

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25022952

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18242894

Energy, Arthritis

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Gracie (Nottingham) on 10/20/2021

Better But With Side Effects


On several occasions I've written about pain from arthritis in my lower back, thighs, knees, wrists, pelvic area, and over the years have taken many supplements to help with this, but hand on heart I cannot say that any have truly worked (Please, no one suggest taking borax because I've taken this for quite a long time, and I live in hope that it is doing some good but the arthritis has never gone away).

In April this year I had the two covid vaccinations, and it was shortly after that I experienced a massive flare-up of symptoms, and wondered whether the flare-up was connected to the vaccinations. However, about this time I was taking MSM, and continued to do so until just recently, but my arthritis symptoms increased plus I was thoroughly depressed, and with the pain and depression some days I didn't want to carry on living. Then one day I left off the MSM and within a day or so I began feel much better. The arthritis pain was still there but to a lesser degree, but the depression had lifted. I honestly believe that I was reacting badly to the MSM but who can say?

Recently, in the hope of living an active life as possible for an octogenarian, I purchased some DHEA, 25mgs, and it worked wonderfully. My walking, balance, energy, definitely improved and I felt as though I had a better quality of life. BUT (why is there always a but?) my anger levels went through the roof over the smallest thing, and I understand that this a side effect of taking DHEA. I've tried taking half a capsule but this doesn't work. Yes, the anger issues lessen, but it does not help very much with the energy levels and arthritis.

Does anyone have a solution to this?

Multiple Cures

3 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Millicent (France) on 12/04/2017

I started taking DHEA a few years ago and the results were impressive with no side effects. Wrinkles decreased, inflammation reduced, female 'stuff' improved, eyelashes grew. Then I changed lifestyle for a while and stopped taking it. I'm now back on and the results are just amazing again. After 1 week start to see improvements. I feel really just generally good too, with energy. Give it a try. I take half a capsule as a whole one would tend to give me so much go I couldn't get to sleep at night.

Replied by Artemis
(Ny City)

Hi Millicent - (pretty name)... I just turned 73,,, with a lot of med problems...depression (like hell), all over pain, etc. etc. I did bio HRT years ago but stopped. Well, I thought I would give DHEA a try (orally this time) which might alleviate the excruciating STRESS and adrenal fatigue among other medical issues which I won't go into. I bought a brand which is supposed to be the best and an old Alternative doc I used to see advised taking this brand. Well, I'm scared...I started taking 5HTP a couple days ago for depression and the reviews are great. So, now I am wondering when should I start the DHEA. I am dealing with such devastating issues in my life,, alone, with literally no-one to turn to. So, I am happy and encouraged by your results with DHEA. How many mgs. do you take? Also, if I may....what is your general age range. I am trying to compare what your results are with my possible results at 73,,, having aged before my time, due to devastating circumstances,,, what can I say,,, life!!!!!

Thanks - be well,,, stick with Mother Nature and we can't go wrong!

(New York)

Regarding DHEA,

I am postmenopausal and I love my DHEA supplements. I do not stick to one brand. I have mentioned DHEA on several occasions on Earth Clinic usually along with other supplements. I have been on DHEA at least seven years now. When it comes to a "mind to accomplish, " DHEA has given me the mind to do great things. Even when I felt like I did not have strength to do great things, I had the desire to do something creative.

In the supplement reviews, some people have said they lost weight while taking DHEA, I didn't notice that. When my body has pains and stiffness, I also use other supplements for energy and healing. The DHEA definitely helps me chase anxiety, and I can see things done, I get moving, though sometimes slow. If I throw D3, Vitamin E and Coq10 in there, try to catch up with me.

I started with DHEA 5mg, and stayed 25mg daily a few years. At 71 years of age now, sometimes take 50mgs. My clinic does not test for DHEA, so I just keep the dose at a senior citizen low.

Here is helpful information about DHEA:





I was interested to read your comments on DHEA, and would agree that it is a wonderful supplement. I find when taking it that my arthritic pain diminishes, I can walk for longer, and am able to accomplish daily household tasks. I'm 86 years of age this year. However, there was one very big drawback, when taking it my anger went through the roof! And sometimes over the smallest thing.

I wish I could report otherwise, because it is great to be able to cope with everything that needs to be done in a day, but I could not live with the overwhelming anger.

I have read a couple of articles by other people who have experienced the same thing, so I'm not alone. You may be one of the lucky ones.

I started off taking 10mgs, which did nothing for me, then moved on to 25mgs. Perhaps the smaller dose may be enough for some people. It's worth a try!

Best wishes.


30.9-295.6 ug/dL is the range for DHEA Sulfate. I test frequently no Doctor involved. I am Male 74 150#. If I take 25mg/day of DHEA my DHEA Sulfate levels will be high and will be over 300ug/dL, so to keep my levels in range I split the tablet and take 12.5mg daily which keeps my levels in mid range. I highly recommend frequent blood testing at least twice per yr. I find Medicare blood test inadequate as the test is basic and does not fit my needs and I rarely use the service.

(New York)

Hi Gracie,

I enjoyed your post.

Quite a few people on the Amazon reviews says they get the same situation you do. Do you take vitamin E?

I am just wandering if it's the vitamin E why I don't have that reaction from DHEA. I started taking it during perimenopause.


(New York)

Vitamin E for Menopause Symptoms and Anxiety

Menopause for me finished at fifty-five, But it started like this:

Somewhere in my late thirties, I began waking up every so often with all my nightclothes wet. After one scary event, I called my mother and said, "Mother I must have had a fever, I woke up with all of my clothes wet." That is when she told me that I might be going into menopause.

I used to order Prevention Magazine in those days, because I loved to read, and it was a little paperback book. One day I read that 800 IU of Vitamin E could help when going through menopause symptoms. The vitamin E cut out the night sweats. I also found out that when I took the Vitamin E it took away that uneasy feeling, you know like, you might smack someone at any moment.

I remember, a woman sitting next to me on the choir was fanning herself wildly, and I whispered to her, "Vitamin E 800 IU." That's all I said. When I saw her again she said she went to her doctor and he put her on 800 IU Vitamin E.

Here is a pubmed experiment.


After menopause, I decreased to 400 IU Vitamin E because I learned that it helps prevent heart disease.