DHEA acne, estrogen and cortisol, information proper dosage 5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 mg – Low and Elevated levels, risks, safety and side effects
Does DHEA supplement use increase sex drive and it is a treatment for those with sexual dysfunction?
Does it treat infertility, is it useful as a fertility hormone?
January 1 2017

DHEA is short for dehydroepiandrosterone, a hormone made by the adrenal glands located just above the kidneys. More than 150 hormones are made by the adrenal glands. However, the most abundant hormone made by the adrenal glands is DHEA. After DHEA is made by these glands it goes into the bloodstream, and from then on it travels all over the body and goes into our cells, where it is converted into male hormones, known as androgens, or female hormones, known as estrogens. Small amounts of DHEA are also made in the brain by neurons (brain cells).  Since the late 1990s another version of this hormone became available as a supplement. For more info on 7-keto dhea supplement. The best time to take it is in the morning.

DHEA is used for replacement of low DHEA levels in aging, but less than 5 mg may be enough in many people and there is no reason to take DHEA 25 mg. Most people may not need DHEA replacement at all.

DHEA acne role, do not take if you get pimples
Many people who have a tendency for pimples get acne within days of starting this androgenic hormone.

Q. Can a DHEA supplement cause acne?
A. Certainly. Some people who are prone to acne may get an acne pimple within a day or two of taking a DHEA supplement. DHEA should not be used by those with an acne problem.

Do DHEA supplements suppress the adrenal gland’s natural DHEA production?
The production of many hormones is controlled by a “feedback loop,” which means that when hormone levels get too high, the body is told to make less, and when hormone levels are too low, the body is told to make more. Cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen are all regulated by this feedback. In other words, if a person takes cortisol, or a similar derivative such as prednisone, it will shut off the body’s natural production. DHEA appears to be one of the exceptions. There doesn’t seem to be a feedback mechanism for DHEA. In other words, DHEA supplements are not likely to stop the body’s own production.

What about DHEA side effects and dangers?
Individuals with normal levels of DHEA who take high doses are likely get side effects. Common side effects caused by high doses of DHEA include acne, increased sweat odor and scalp itching, menstrual irregularities, irritability, and restlessness. Androgenic hormones, such as DHEA, testosterone and androstenedione can cause hair loss in susceptible individuals. DHEA is likely to raise levels of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the hair follicles. Too much DHT will lead to scalp hair loss in some individuals. Little is known about prescription drug / hormone interactions.

I was started with the 10 mg size and experienced several of the unpleasant reactions described there, including inability to sleep and pounding heart. The results of blood work and, especially, a saliva test indicate that my adrenal glands are not functioning optimally and so the MD suggested that I try the 10 mg size. I took one with breakfast. It was disconcerting to realize three days later that the effects were still very clear and that I hadn’t slept well for two nights. During this time, trying to figure out what was going on in my body and what to do, I found your site.10 mg is the smallest size I have found. Do you know of any sources for 1 mg?

DHEA Caution, risk, safety and danger
High dosages of pregnenolone and DHEA, generally more than 10 mg, cause heart palpitations and irregular beats, perhaps ventricular ectopy. I believe that the highest dose of these hormones sold over the counter should be no more than 5 mg, even though they are often available at 10, 25, 50, and even at 100 mg. These hormones are much more powerful that people realize. Just because they are available over the counter does not mean they have been proven to be completely safe. The Oct 10, 1998 issue of the respected medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine  published a letter to the editor regarding DHEA and cardiac arrhythmias. In clinical practice instances of skipped heart beats or heart rhythm irregularities have occurred on high dose of DHEA.

Q. What do you believe the effect of DHEA is which results in the cardiac irregularities? Does it effect catecholamines resulting in extrasystoles?
A. We don’t know how DHEA hormone influences heart rhythm, perhaps it acts directly on the sinus node?

Q. I was taking DHEA 100 mg and got severe anxiety and restlessness. Is 100 mg too high?
A. Yes, 100 mg is very, very amount. DHEA 100 mg, 50 mg, 25 mg, and even 10 mg should not be sold over the counter since many problems may arise from these high DHEA dosages. Some people who take DHEA 25 mg have had heart problems as a result.

Q. Is DHEA safe?
A. As long as DHEA is taken by those who really need it, such as a very low DHEA test level, and in dosages of 3 mg of less with occasional breaks from use, then it DHEA is safe.

What about long term risks of DHEA use?
The longest human trials have rarely been over one year, and no significant health concerns have been noted. However, we do not have studies available that indicate what effect DHEA has when taken for several years without breaks. The long term effect of DHEA on breast, prostate gland, liver and other organs and tissues is not known. It is not clear at this time whether DHEA supplements enhance the formation of tumors or protect cancers from developing. These influences may perhaps vary depending on the dosage used.

What are the benefits of DHEA?
DHEA supplements help those who have adrenal deficiency and low levels. The benefits from DHEA supplements (in those who are deficient) include improved sense of wellbeing, more alertness and stamina, and enhanced sexual interest and libido. DHEA can convert into testosterone and have a positive influence on sex drive. However, chronic use in high dosages may sometimes have an opposite effect. Blood levels of all the steroid hormones that derive from DHEA metabolism are increased when people take DHEA supplements. This potentially leads to both beneficial and harmful effects.

Additional human research indicates the following benefits:

  • It is helpful in older men and women with osteoporosis.
  • DHEA is an effective addition to the conventional treatment of those who suffer from hypopituitarism, a condition in which the pituitary gland fails to secrete a variety of pituitary hormones into the circulation.
  • DHEA may help reverse bone loss and some of the emotional disturbances associated with anorexia nervosa.
  • Supplementation improves blood vessel function and insulin sensitivity in middle aged men. These beneficial changes have the potential to attenuate the development of age-related disorders such as cardiovascular disease.
  • In a small study, DHEA was found effective and safe in patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • It may be helpful in women with lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus).
  • The administration of DHEA in patients with advanced HIV infection results in improved mental function
  • DHEA may be helpful for female impotence in certain cases.

Benefit for sexual enhancement
I am currently taking a bioidentical troche for hrt and since reading your info have eliminated the dhea from it. Symptoms were hair loss and heart flutters, however I did enjoy the enhanced sexual feelings while taking the dhea.

Will the use of a DHEA supplement lead to a bigger penis?
No, even though some websites make this claim.

I take DHEA every day and I read on a blog that it is not a good idea to take yohimbe bark along with the hormone. Do you have any idea why that would be?
There is a possibility of increased risk for heart rhythm disturbance by combining herbal extract and the hormone pill.

Weight loss
There is no evidence that it is effective for weight loss, natural supplements that suppress appetite are preferable, such as Diet Rx.

Is DHEA an anti-aging hormone?
DHEA has been touted in popular books and magazine articles as having anti-aging potential. There have not been any long-term studies at this time to give us any clues whether replacing declining DHEA levels as we age will help us live longer. However, when used appropriately, individuals who are deficient in this hormone do notice improvement in their quality of life, including mood, energy, sex drive, and memory.

DHEA review
DHEA is made from cholesterol and is a natural hormone that has been available over-the- counter since the mid 1990s. No fatalities have been recorded in the medical literature regarding the use of this hormone by the general public. The availability of DHEA and its popularity have stimulated research by the scientific community regarding the potential uses of this once neglected natural hormone.

Increasing low blood levels
Q. I have a low DHEA level. Would taking a supplement be appropriate for someone with a low DHEA level?
A. It is difficult to know the right dosage of DHEA supplement based on a blood study. If you have a low DHEA level, perhaps your doctor can monitor you while you take a small amount such as 1 or 2 mg. In the long run, we prefer going by your symptoms as opposed to the low DHEA blood level. How you feel is sometimes more important than the blood study.

Libido enhancement, sex drive, better sexual function
Q. Is DHEA related to sex drive?
A. In some cases DHEA increases sex drive. Sex drive has many influences, and low DHEA level is only one factor out of many. DHEA is a sex enhancer in some people who have low levels of the hormone. Some people may notice a boost in libido and it is appropriate to use this hormone for brief periods for these purposes.

Q, I’m female, 32 years old. In trying to elevate low sex hormones ( always low estradiol ) and treat signs of adrenal fatigue, at the advice of my physician I started taking 10 (and occasionally 15) milligrams of DHEA per day. My levels were a little low (175). I did this for about a month and a half, adding 2 to 5 mgs of pregnenolone per day during the last two weeks of treatment. My blood tests during treatment did not show elevated testosterone and so I wasn’t concerned. It really helped me feel more energetic, motivated and my sex drive improved a little. When I stopped treatment to do some testing with a new doctor I became very tired within a week and my blood pressure dropped. I felt awful but I decided not go back on either DHEA or pregnenolone. My test results two days after stopping showed DHEA at 150, lower than ever. A few weeks after stopping I shed a whole lot of hair but didn’t expect it to show because I have a lot of hair and I’ve shed similar amounts before (or so I remember). Around the time I shed the hair, I did some testing again (for my own curiosity) and showed slightly higher than normal serum testosterone (80) but low free. I did not get a DHEA number at that time as it was not part of the package I ordered. About a month after stopping DHEA I thought I noticed a little thinning but I wasn’t sure. Now, over a month and a half after stopping, hair thinning is definitely happening and appears to be progressing quickly. I am seeing a thinner hairline and over all less volume. I thought androgenic hair loss was slow. Is it possible that my treatment with DHEA and pregnenolone created more receptors in my follicles making me more sensitive to normal levels? Or is there something about stopping DHEA (or having levels drop quickly) that causes hair loss? My dermatologist sent me for even more blood testing to diagnose the reason for the hair loss. The results came back yesterday. Low ferritin (28) as usual but the other iron tests came back good (low levels never seemed to affect my hair, anyway). Testosterone is normal (36). Free is on the low side of normal as usual .7%. DHEA is 250 — a little more than when I first ever tested it at 212. I guess my adrenals are putting out enough on their own now. I’d really like to know how to address this hair loss and why it seems to be progressing even though I’m not taking DHEA. This email became a little longer than I intended but it addresses noticeable hair loss AFTER DHEA cessation and I don’t believe that was covered on your site.
A. It is possible that finasteride used temporarily may be helpful but we are not sure.

How to decrease high levels
Q. I have a high DHEA and low cortisol level. Is there a way to decrease the elevated DHEA level?
A. Many people have the misconception that the body is simple and all one has to do is check the level of hormones and they will have the answer to their problems. Although this may be true in some cases, such as thyroid hormone levels, it is simplistic to think that one needs to treat something such as high DHEA blood test level and low cortisol level unless there are clear clinical signs that something is not right with the body or the high DHEA blood test is very, very high. A full medical evaluation is necessary as opposed to focusing solely on these hormone levels and the elevated DHEA level.

Combining and interactions with other hormones
Q. I want to take DHEA plus pregnenolone. Any side effect of taking both? Can you also tell me about androstenedione.
A. DHEA plus pregnenolone can have an additive effect. If you plan to take 1 mg of each, it may be fine, but if you plan to take 5 mg DHEA plus 5mg of pregnenolone, you could have side effects that could be serious, such as heart rhythm problems.


Q. What is the influence of DHEA on the brain?
A. DHEA can improve mood and sexual health since a DHEA supplement can enter brain tissue. DHEA is actually made in the brain and is called a neurosteroid.

Q. Can DHEA and melatonin be used together?
A. DHEA is taken in the morning and melatonin is used at night. I don’t see any problems taking DHEA and melatonin the same day.

Q. Is the DHEA dosage for a man similar to a woman?
A. Women need less DHEA than a man.

Q. What is a symptom of low DHEA?
A. Symptom of low DHEA could be lack of vitality, low sex drive, and lack of energy. These symptoms can be caused by many other factors.

Q. I am considering DHEA supplementation but not sure what dosage to begin with.
A. DHEA supplementation is not to be done as casually as Vitamin C supplementation. Risks are involved. Read all the DHEA information you can from reliable sources before engaging in DHEA supplementation. If you do decide to use this hormone supplement, and your doctor approves, use 1 or 2 mg only.

Q. I am a 42 year old male and went to a vitamin store and it was suggested that I take DHEA to increase my testosterone which I was told would help increase my metabolism. I took one 25mg dhea capsule the first two to three days the I reduced it to half tablets everyday. After taking dhea almost for one month I didn’t feel any change in my sex drive. However after I stopped, I could see increase in my libido and sex drive. But suddenly I started having heart palpitation (rate 110/min and above), uneasyness, breathlessness etc once a day. Though it’s almost one month i didn’t touch DHEA. Could you please explain wether this is due to DHEA or something else. For your info, I am diagonse with Mild Hypertension and Cervical Spondlysis.
A. The symptoms could be due to dhea use but they should disappear with time.  

Q. The consultant (Dr. of pharmacy) who my primary care physician sent me to told me I have off the chart low levels of DHEA and that I need to supplement it with 20 mg per day. Seeing your article about DHEA, I am not sure I should do this. Any comments?
A. You may wish to discuss the DHEA information on the website with the prescribing doctors.

Q. Hi im 19 years old i started taking the DHEA supplement at 5mg a day purely because i read that its a can be used as a type of safe steroid for muscle growth after 3 weeks of use i have noticed gains i go to the gym most days but the gains while on DHEA are noticible but my question is i have turned angry very snatchy short fused everythink that involves me in thinking like maths just sends me into angry mode but i have no hair loss and my sex drive is like 100% pls replay is this normal ?
A. DHEA can cause this type of irritability and anger. DHEA is likely to cause thinning of hair and it may occur so slowly that you may not realize it until one day you look in the mirror and your hairline has receded. It is not clear whether the hair would come back fully if the DHEA is stopped. Creatine appears to be a safer way to increase muscle mass.

I am a 41 year old woman. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, low blood pressure problems, heart fluttering palpitations, anxiety panic attacks, insomnia, Fibromyalgia, inability to concentrate/think properly, a dramatic decrease in libido and have suffered Chronic Fatigue Syndrome several times over the years. I am constantly fatigued, drowsy and often very lethargic, plus have noticed a large increase in my hair loss. I have just consulted a doctor who checked my blood levels of DHEA and they were 0.69. He is talking of putting me onto DHEA, which is not available over the counter in Australia. Reading your site (which is fantastic, thank you), I am a bit apprehensive about beginning treatment. I am, however, desperate to regain energy and vitality.
We can’t offer individual advice but you could consider eating more cold water fish such as salmon and halibut and ask your doctor about fish oil capsules. Yoga is very helpful. However your case is complicated and a comprehensive approach needs to be taken.

Q. Several years ago I read, and very much enjoyed, “DHEA: A Practical Guide.” I notice that the Mayo Clinic completed a two-year study on the anti-aging effects of DHEA supplementation, and decided that there were no benefits to such action. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in October, 2006.  Have there been any intelligent rebuttals to that study, and if so where can I find more information?

Q. I am a graduate student at MIT. I have been assigned to write about a recent Mayo Clinic study that suggests the popular antiaging supplement DHEA has no beneficial effects. The two-year study appeared in the October 19, 2006 issue of New England Journal of Medicine. I was wondering if you think elderly people should stop taking DHEA in light of the findings? Do you think more research is necessary to evaluate the potential long-term health risks associated with DHEA?
A. Two years is not long enough to determine if a supplement has anti-aging benefits. I am not a big proponent of DHEA. In my opinion, hormone supplementation is very risky. DHEA side effects could occur with high dose use. These include hair loss and potential tumor formation. DHEA may be appropriate in some people who have very low DHEA or testosterone levels. Low dosages of 1 to 5 mg, with a week off each month, may be appropriate for some people who may notice an increase in vitality and libido. The whole topic of hormone supplement use is very controversial and there is a variety of opinions among physicians and scientists.

Q.  was reading your page on Dhea. It had a lot of good information, coming from the industry I was troubled by some simple notions that it did not contain. You may agree. Micronized Dhea has is better. I will not elaborate unless you request.  Women and men are different. I cringe when women are using more than 12 mg without consulting a doctor. Too much endogenous estrogen…bad idea. To much estrogen (cancer) can convert to testosterone—estradiol ….do I need to say more. As a physician I do not expect you to recommend high doses of Dhea. I am not in agreement with you. Having said that I am troubled that consumers would gamble with their health and start out with more than 5mg. A more intelligent strategy is to work up to 25 mg for men or even 50mg depending on age. To see what you can tolerate. Most silly consumers do not understand Dhea aromatizes to estrogen in men ….undesirable. Using things like DIM is productive for men and probably women. Personally I have used dhea for close to 10 years. I started with 5 mg and over several months worked my way up to 25 mg. Now I am a 52 year old male and use 50 mg of Dhea. I also use DIM two times/ day. I have done saliva tests without aromatase inhibitors. 50 mg of dhea does raise estradiol outside the normal range at lease for me. I use pueraria mirifica which is the most estragenic plant on earth and a potent competitive inhibitor. My hair is as thick as can be. I also added pregnenolone 5 years, started with 10 mg and worked my way up to 50 mg. My heath is very good, I look young, however my family looks young. My blood pressure is very good. I do not think large amounts of both Dhea and pregnenolone is for everybody especially women. I do not believe starting out with more than 5 mg for a women and 10 mg for a man.
A. We have not seen any research that micronized DHEA has more health benefits or has fewer side effects than regular DHEA. The long term health benefits and risks of DHEA use are not known. Until more long term research is available, it is best to use low dosages if used at all.

Q. I tried taking DHEA and after about 4 weeks I developed a really bad yeast infection. Do you know of DHEA medication causing that in women?
A. We have not had any reports of women mentioning to us regarding DHEA associated with yeast infections, nor have we seen any mention of this in the medical literature.

Q. My current job test for all drugs, including muscle enhancement drugs. My question is that if i still wanted to take DHEA how long would i have until i would test negative for it? in other words how long after haltering DHEA use will it stay in my system?
A. Drug tests do not look at DHEA levels and it is a natural, legal hormone. It is likely that DHEA levels will drop very quickly within a day or two after stopping use.

Q. If someone has adequate serum levels of DHEA does that mean that pregnenolone is not needed since the DHEA is in a sufficient range. Can one have adequate DHEA and still need pregnenolone? Which is the best way to test the pregnenolone levels-saliva or serum?
A. The term adrenal fatigue is not a helpful term for diagnosis or treatment. We prefer treating and evaluating the whole person and the symptoms a person has rather than overly focusing on levels of hormones or blood studies. If adequate DHEA levels are present, then it is likely that adequate levels of pregnenolone are also present. Blood levels of pregnenolone are more consistent and easier to interpret than saliva levels.

Q. I have clinical depression, been diagnosed for 10 years. I’m trying to avoid taking Effexor. I recently tried dhea supplement and i’ve been getting excellent results. However, the dosage is 25 mg, one tablet each day. Now, I am 6’5″ in height. I’m a pretty tall guy. I have been taking a total of 90mg a day. Do you know if this DHEA dosage is safe? Wouldn’t it be okay to take this DHEA dosage because of my height? Or, am i actually going to be doing damage to myself by increasing the dosage?
A. We can’t give individual advice regarding the appropriate DHEA dosage for any particular person, but you should be aware of the dangers and cautions regarding the use of DHEA hormone as listed on the site.

Q. In December 2007, I had a total hysterectomy, total (family history of ovarian cancer). Saliva tests and urine tests show that I now have low levels of DHEA. I am on a compounded BHRT, prescribed by my holistic doctor. I am 48. Since blood and saliva tests showed I am low on DHEA, do you believe 25 mgs per day is okay? I feel terrific. I have been on the DHEA therapy since January. My doctor advises if I notice hair loss, to cut back. However, I don’t want to wait for that awful day to occur. Do you suggest I cut back to half a tablet? I just ordered BIOSOM’s DHEA spray 7 mgs per pump. It is hard to find 5 mgs.
A. We have not found DHEA blood studies to be a very reliable indicator of DHEA dosage requirement.

My doctor suggested I take 5-10 mg daily of DHEA with sulfate; I have adrenal fatigue. Unfortunately, I cannot locate a source for the DHEA with sulfate. Any ideas?
DHEA supplements, when ingested, are converted into DHEA sulfate. There is no need to take a DHEA sulfate supplement. In the bloodstream, DHEA travels mostly as DHEA sulfate.

If someone’s DHEA-Sulfate level is too high, well over the reference range, is there anything one can do to bring that down, besides stopping the use. Your advise in this matter will be very much appreciated.
Of course one would need to stop supplementation, but rather than treating an isolated blood test result, a physician has to review and evaluate the whole body and review the results of the medical history, examination, and results of other lab studies before deciding whether or not an isolated dhea blood test elevation is pertinent or not of any significance.

I take a capsule of 25mg of DHEA every morning and every night for hormone replacement to deal with hot flashes. I had a hysterectomy when I was 30 (35 years ago). I had many problems with the prescribed Rxs for hormone replacement. In the early 90’s I found DHEA and began taking 25 mg daily. The hot flashes would come back within a day if I went off the hormone, so I learned to not miss taking my capsule. Two years ago I added another 25mg of DHEA in the evening to avoid the evening hot flashes. I started having hair loss within a few weeks of beginning the DHEA hormone replacement, but neither my Drs nor I ever connected my hair loss with the DHEA until I read your site tonight. I have been to many many Drs as I have other serious health issues that require other medication (Wellbutrin XL 300 mg daily, Synthroid 75mcg daily, and  2 years ago, Cholestyramine was added, but as far as I or my Drs tell me, none of those medicines cause hair loss. When I had my hysterectomy, they also took my ovaries. That was when I was 30. The typical hormone replacement caused me many problems, so when I found DHEA in my mid 40s I felt lucky and quite happy with it. Although it’s some 35 years after my hysterectomy, I still would have hot flashes, but luckily the DHEA does stop them. The down side is that my hair is really thin and that I’d like to correct that problem. DHEA did nothing in regard to my low libido and the increased dosage only dampened my libido further. On the up side, my mood is almost always good, but I also have a short fuse and am verbally aggressive when upset. Also, in regard to heart palpitations, I did have that, but in the mid 90’s low thyroid was found to be the cause and once on Synthroid they went away. Although a few years ago I did think I had a heart problem and wore a heart monitor for a week, but nothing was found. After reading your site I see that I should, at very least, a holiday from the DHEA. I’m worried that if I stop the DHEA I’ll have awful hot flashes. I can’t take the typical meds prescribed by MDs for hot flashes, so what could a person use to deal with the hot flashes in place of DHEA? How long should the DHEA holiday be or should DHEA not be used as a hormone (estrogen) replacement like I have been using it? Has anyone ever written to you with a DHEA possible side effect of chronic diarrhea? I’ve had several years of chronic diarrhea, every day, and so far, not one doctor or gastroenterologist can find a reason for the diarrhea and I’ve had all kinds of tests and scopes.
A. We can’t give specific advice but, as a general rule, one should use the lowest dosage of a hormone that helps with symptom relief and to take the pills as infrequently as tolerated. We have not heard of chronic diarrhea as a side effect, but then again we know few people who have taken it for so many years without breaks. Certain herbs such as St. John’s wort may help with hot flashes.