Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

Supplement Forms/Alternate Names

DHEA, DHEA sulfate


Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone that the body uses to make sex hormones. It has been used to support fertility treatment and ease the symptoms of irregular hormones. DHEA can be taken as a pill or powder. It can also be injected into the muscle or bloodstream by a health provider.


50 to 200 milligrams once daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

May Be Effective

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe for most adults to take DHEA in small doses for a short time, but it may cause acne in some people. Taking DHEA orally in high doses may be unsafe. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take DHEA orally. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to take for a long period.


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.


A. Adrenal Insufficiency

A1. Alkatib AA, Cosma M, et al. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials of DHEA treatment effects on quality of life in women with adrenal insufficiency. A Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009;94(10):3676-3681.

B. Assisted Reproduction Treatment Support

B1. Gleicher N, Barad DH. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation in diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2011 May 17;9:67.

B2. Narkwichean A, Maalouf W, et al. Efficacy of dehydroepiandrosterone to improve ovarian response in women with diminished ovarian reserve: a meta-analysis. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2013 May 16;11:44.

B3. Nagels HE, Rishworth JR, et al. Androgens (dehydroepiandrosterone or testosterone) for women undergoing assisted reproduction. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(11):CD009739.

B4. Li J, Yuan H, et al. A meta-analysis of dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation among women with diminished ovarian reserve underdoing in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2015;131(2):240-245.

B5. Zhang M, Niu W, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone treatment in women with poor ovarian response undergoing IVF or ICSI: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2016 Aug;33(8):981-991.

B6. Liu Y, Hu L, et al. Efficacy of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation for in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer cycles: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2018 Mar;34(3):178-183.

C. Cognitive Function

C1. Grimley Evans J, Malouf R, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation for cognitive function in healthy elderly people. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Oct 18;(4):CD006221.

D. Depression

D1. Peixoto C, Devicari Cheda JN, et al. The effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in the treatment of depression and depressive symptoms in other psychiatric and medical illnesses: a systematic review. Curr Drug Targets. 2014;15(9):901-914.

E. Menopause

E1. Elraiyah T, Sonbol MB, et al. Clinical review: The benefits and harms of systemic dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in postmenopausal women with normal adrenal function: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Oct;99(10):3536-35342.

E2. Scheffers CS, Armstrong S, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone for women in the peri- or postmenopausal phase. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;1:CD011066.

E3. Pitsouni E, Grigoriadis T, et al. Efficacy of vaginal therapies alternative to vaginal estrogens on sexual function and orgasm of menopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2018 Oct;229:45-56.

F. Muscle Strength/Physical Function in Older Adults

F1. Baker WL, Karan S, et al. Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone on muscle strength and physical function in older adults: a systematic review. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Jun;59(6):997-1002.

G. Osteoporosis

G1. Whelan AM, Jurgens TM, et al. Natural health products in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann Pharmacother. 2006 May;40(5):836-849.

H. Sexual Function

H1. Peixoto C, Carrilho CG, et al. The effects of dehydroepiandrosterone on sexual function: a systematic review. Climacteric. 2017 Apr;20(2):129-137.

I. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

I1. Crosbie D, Black C, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone for systemic lupus erythematosus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Oct 17;(4):CD005114.

Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC