Questions? Call us: 1 (800) 851-7957   |   Shop Products   

Call us: 1 (800) 851-7957

DHEA and Your Natural Fertility

DHEA and Your Natural Fertility

DHEA is one of the hottest topics in the fertility world right now. Women who struggle with infertility are wondering if DHEA could be their natural miracle cure. When they ask us our opinion on DHEA, they find the response to not be what they were expecting. Before we get to that, some of you may be wondering what DHEA is. DHEA stands for Dehydroepiandrosterone. DHEA is not an herb. It is a steroid hormone created by the body from cholesterol in the adrenal glands. DHEA is also created in a lab as a health supplement. DHEA supplements are made from Wild Yam root or soy, converted in a lab to bio-identical DHEA. Harvard Health Publishing states it best, “DHEA is controversial. Despite the heated debate, two facts about DHEA are incontrovertible: It is a hormone, and it is not part of the human diet.”

Dehydroepiandrosterone that is naturally produced by our body, is supposed to naturally decline as we age. The levels of this hormone are highest from ages seven through our early twenties, peaking in our mid-twenties, then declining after that. Many people use it as a “fountain of youth” product, as it is marketed as such. For fertility, it is said to help increase egg health in women over 40, benefit women with PCOS and perhaps even diminished ovarian reserve and women undergoing IVF. In spite of this, there are still questions about safely using it without hormonal monitoring. We find that most people who use it tend to have more hormonal imbalance in the long run. Our bodies are not meant to have high levels of DHEA as we age; it is unnatural.

What are DHEA Supplements Used for in Regard to Fertility?

Is Using DHEA as Part of Your Natural Fertility Plan Safe?
We do not support the use of DHEA, as taking pure DHEA is likely to convert into the wrong hormones and can also go into androgen and estrogen pathways, causing more hormonal imbalance. The goal should be to support the endocrine system by using adaptogen herbs and supportive nutrients to help the body to restore hormonal balance, instead of using supplements as hormone replacement therapy.

If you do wish to use DHEA, we would suggest you work closely with your medical or naturopathic doctor so your hormones can be monitored while you are taking DHEA. If you choose to use DHEA while also taking other herbs and supplements for fertility, it should only be done so under the supervised care of your doctor. Rebecca Ford, Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, and Registered Nurse of Integrative Medicine Consultants of Texas says, “Practitioners are likely to prescribe between 15mg and 50mg. If you are taking DHEA, you should then re-check your level after about 90 days.”

Be sure to tell the practitioner you work with every supplement and herb you are planning on, or are currently taking. We cannot guarantee that any products we sell will be as effective, especially if they may aid hormonal balance, when used in combination with DHEA. The DHEA may affect how they work in your body.

What if my Doctor Suggests I Take DHEA?
While we don’t suggest using DHEA, if you are under the supervised care of your doctor or naturopath and you have a good plan, including proper dosage specific to your needs, then it may be fine. Be sure that your doctor tests your DHEA level, as well as other hormones, before you begin taking it. You may not have low levels to begin with and too much DHEA may cause major hormonal imbalance. If your adrenal health is very poor, your body may not be able to respond well to DHEA supplementation. It may be unsafe to self-prescribe DHEA. Many over-the-counter DHEA supplements sold contain concentrated doses, higher than a doctor would suggest.

How to Support Naturally Correct Levels of DHEA
Unnaturally low levels of DHEA in women of childbearing age may be associated with poor adrenal health. Adrenal fatigue may cause an imbalance in the cortisol to DHEA ratio produced by the adrenals. DHEA works to reduce the effects of too much cortisol, but this does not mean it is best to directly supplement with DHEA. It would be best to support adrenal health naturally. Studies have shown that you can increase your natural ability to produce DHEA by “thinking with your heart.” Shifting your negative thoughts to positive ones has been shown to naturally increase DHEA levels. It takes practice, but it is something that you can do at any time. As we all know stress can directly negatively impact our fertility. Negative thought patterns can increase the negative stress response, decreasing fertility.

The Institute of HeartMath, in Boulder Creek, CA, performed a study using their heart-focusing techniques on people with low DHEA levels and poor adrenal health due to stress. After 1 month of using their techniques and trainings, subjects had a 100% increase in DHEA levels. For additional ways to learn to support healthy DHEA levels, please read our article Is My Adrenal Health Affecting My Fertility? This article will share with you many ways to support overall function of the adrenal glands which, as we have learned, produces and controls DHEA.

Despite our desire to never age, it is part of the natural design of life. DHEA naturally declines after our mid-twenties. As it continues to decline, it is completely normal for women over 40 to have much lower levels then someone in their late twenties or thirties. Using DHEA supplements is not going to reverse the natural process of aging. It is important to weigh the risk of disturbing age appropriate natural hormonal balance with the true individual benefits of DHEA supplementation. Each woman is unique in her fertility needs. Please talk with a doctor if you have ever contemplated supplementing with DHEA, so you can be clear if this is your best option.


Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

Related Articles


Let your voice be heard... Leave a brief comment or question related to this article.

 characters available
  1. Avatar

    Hi. I am 42 with normal hormonal levels, and do not have DOR. But I do have poor eqq quality. My DHEA level is 93mcg. Do you think i should take DHEA?

    • Dear Jan,

      We truly feel it is best to talk to a doctor about taking DHEA and/or asking that they help you know your need and monitor you while using it.

      If you have not seen our guide How to Increase Your Egg Health in 90 Days, you may appreciated what is shared.

    • Avatar

      Jan, just fyi – I am 39 and was told by my doctor I have poor egg quality after 2 IVF cycles that yielded only 2 day 6 embryos. I started taking 75 mg/day DHEA and after my last egg retrieval, 17/19 eggs fertilized, and 7 embryos made it to day 6! I’m not saying it was definitely the DHEA, but if your doctor says it’s ok, go for it!

  2. Avatar

    Hi, I am 41 and my DHEA number is 34. My P.A. says that this is the number of someone in their 80’s, LOL! ( I am also hypothyroid) I have been told to start taking 5mg DHEA, and this will (hopefully) also fix my low testosterone…. It is possible I may want to get pregnant after these numbers settle down. Would I need to get off the DHEA altogether?

    • Dear Lisa,

      Ideally a natural fertility program would be started to support the systems of the body, namely the endocrine system that produces and coordinates the delivery of hormones, in maintaining healthy hormonal balance. When this happens supplemental hormones, DHEA is a hormone, should not be needed.

      In terms of when you will need to get off DHEA, I can not know this really. If you take it for the recommended amount of time and the body begins maintains a healthy level, or your doctor may support weaning off it to see how things go. You will want to ask your doctor the best way to continue or discontinue it if you learn you are pregnant.

      My best!

  3. Avatar

    Are there any other questionable supplements commonly taken for infertility and egg quality improvement? I am planning to do an egg retrieval in April and frozen embryo transfer at some point after we get and test our embryos. My RE told me I could take just about anything to enhance egg quality, but not DHEA.

    • Dear Emily,

      The supplements we suggest don’t classify as questionable. I would side with your RE personally. DHEA is actually a hormone and best not take without medical guidance and monitoring. Consider learning about the supplements women use to naturally support egg health along with diet and lifestyle changes in our guide How to Increase Your Egg Health in 90 Days.

  4. Avatar

    A blood test recently showed I have above the normal range of DHEA. Can this affect my fertility? (TTC 4.5 years – unexplained.)

    • Dear Rol,

      This would be a great conversation to have with your doctor taking in account your age. We are not naturally meant to have high levels of DHEA as we age. Slightly elevated levels of DHEA can be indicative of PCOS, adrenal imbalance and possible hypoandrogenism, all of which a medical doctor is best equipped to help you know if you have. Have you been evaluated for any of these fertility health issues?

  5. Update 2014 – We are back! We have been away for a while and we sure have missed all of your wonderful questions and thoughts on our articles. I apologize for not being able to reply to all past comments. Moving forward, one of our staff herbalists will be here to respond to comments! We look forward to connecting with our readers once again!

  6. Avatar

    am so trying for so long i want to give up now 5 yrs too long ;(

  7. Avatar

    I see a naturopath and she has given me wild yam as a natural substitute for DHEA .. After 3 years tryin to concieve 3 friends and I started usin the DHEA and I have to say 3 out of us fell pregnant sadly I lost my baby but the other 2 have had theirs so I believe it has to be good in some way

  8. Avatar

    Thanks for your interesting information. My doctor asked me to take DHEA 25mg twice a day for 4 months before doing IVF. For the first 2 months I found my breast was painful and tender. I asked him whether it was one of side effects of using DHEA, he said I can continue using it. Then one month later my back and face appeared many acne and I felt something not right for me. I emailed him again to see if I should stop using it, but he said I could reduce the amount if I wish.

    During my IVF cycle, I had 11 eggs collected but still one fresh embryo transfer and another frozen one. This result made me think that my eggs quality was still not very good.

    From your information, I think it’s better to do natural way than too much chemical medications. Thank you so much for sharing such an useful information to us.


  9. Avatar

    hello ive been taking dhea for about years now and still the eggs that they got are weak is there any alternative natural medicines aside from dhea without dr prescription that you can suggest.thank you

  10. Avatar

    Thank you for posting this. My doctor suggested this for me. However I wanted to research this before taking it. She did not test my DHEA levels. There is a lot of positive information concerning this on the internet. However, taking something that was a steroid, increased estrogen along with testosterone did not sit right with me. This article confirms that decision.