Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation is being used to augment ovarian responsiveness in women with premature ovarian aging (POA) and poor ovarian reserve. Dehydroepiandrosterone, also known as androstenolone, is an endogenous steroid hormone, and the pharmaceutical form is called prasterone (INN). This hormone is produced in the adrenal glands, the brain, and the gonads (ovaries and testes). DHEA functions as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of estrogen and androgen.
What is Ovarian Failure?
Ovarian failure is a natural consequence of the normal aging process. Around 10% of women suffer from premature ovarian aging, which is also called primary ovarian insufficiency. Diminished ovarian reserve is defined by an elevation in age-specific follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels and decreased antimullerian hormone (AMH) levels. While these levels vary from woman to woman, fertility potential decreases when levels are 12-15 mIU/ml.
How does DHEA work?
DHEA is effective for treating diminished ovarian reserve through increased follicular insulin-like growth factor-I or by inducing polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). With in vitro fertilization cycles, DHEA reduces aneuploidy and improves egg and embryo numbers and quality. Many studies show that DHEA helps women by stimulating ovarian responsiveness.
A recent study was conducted to evaluate the effect of DHEA as a supplement to gonadotropins on ovulation and pregnancy rate in intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycles for women with POA. In a prospective randomized controlled study, 50 infertile women with POA were separated into two groups of 25 each. For 6 months, the first group received supplemental DHEA tablets (25 mg), and the second group received a placebo.
Of these patients, ovulation increased from 48% to 86% in the DHEA group compared to 44-66% in the placebo group. After taking DHEA, 25% (6 women) conceived compared to none in the placebo group. The researchers concluded that DHEA supplementation has a beneficial role in the treatment of infertility with POA, and it serves as an adjunct to gonadotropins.
DHEA supplementation has a role as an adjunct to gonadotropins for treating infertility for women with POA. This means it has positive effects on the hormone profile through lowering the serum FSH level and increase AMH and estradiol levels. DHEA increases ovulation rate, reduces the dose and duration requirement of gonadotropins, and improves conception rate.
In another study by Mamas and Mamas, researchers found that DHEA supplementation of 50-75mg for around 4 months before IVF was useful for women with premature ovarian failure, diminished ovarian reserve, and premature ovarian aging. This was found to improve egg production, improve embryo quality, reduce risk of miscarriage, and improve rates of IVF and IUI success.
Using DHEA Safely
It is important to know that DHEA is not a miracle cure for infertility. Researchers still do not know enough about how DHEA influences conception. Scientists are continuing to research the role of DHEA in ovarian stimulation and conception. However, it is not safe to use DHEA for a long time, as it can lead to hormonal imbalance. As a woman ages, her body is not equipped to have high levels of DHEA.
Pacific Reproductive Center treats women frequently with diminished ovarian reserve, and uses the latest cutting-edge advancements to generate success. There are 4 fertility clinic locations in Irvine, Torrance, Glendale and Corona. Call us today to find out your options!