DHEA & Fertility

Side Effects

Like any hormonal treatment, DHEA can have both positive and negative side effects. During the time CHR has been working with DHEA, we have carefully monitored the side effects of DHEA, and have been impressed by how rarely even the most common side effects seem to occur. We often hear from patients how much better DHEA supplementation makes them feel overall, which is likely explained by increased androgensandrogens levels in patients with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR).

Side Benefits of DHEA

  • Improved overall feeling
  • Feelings of improved physical strength, mental acuity, and memory
  • Improved sex drive

Negative Side Effects of DHEA

Negative side effects of DHEA are possible but rare, and it is important to note that side effects should disappear when DHEA treatment is stopped. These include:

  • Oily skin
  • Acne
  • Hair loss
  • Stomach upset

One of the benefits of DHEA supplementation is the relative lack of serious side effects, compared to direct testosterone supplementation. Since CHR investigators have identified that DHEA works through conversion into testosteronetestosterone and via androgen receptors on small folliclesfollicles , it may be tempting to think that one should simply use testosterone to raise the androgen levels within the ovary. However, DHEA supplementation lets the body adjust the testosterone levels in various organs so that each organ—including the ovary—has just the right amount of testosterone (rather than flooding all the organs with a high, potentially damaging, level of testosterone). This is one of the reasons why CHR uses DHEA supplementation, not direct testosterone supplementation, for women with DOR preparing for IVF cycles.

Read more about DHEA Treatment

Last Updated: November 15, 2014

Additional Resources

In Focus: Zona pellucida in ovaries This image shows a small portion of a mouse ovary with many follicles developing, each of which contain a green


Endometriosis and infertility: Monthly case report Case: A 32-year old woman without prior pregnancies presented for initial consultation. She was diagnosed via laparoscopy at age 16

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1/3 of women who have been told they need egg donation actually wind up conceiving at the CHR with their own eggs.