After Jessica’s last annual check-up, her health seemed fine. But a few months later, she slipped into a funk and felt incapable of building up the motivation and physical energy to go about her daily life. Her joints started to ache, and her physical fitness dropped precipitously. Even though she wasn’t depressed, her mood was low and her anxiety was higher than normal. Her doctor wasn’t able to find anything to explain her symptoms and simply suggested she get more rest and exercise.
But Jessica knew something was off. After consulting with a specialist in hormone health, she discovered what was causing her fatigue and discomfort: low DHEA levels. If her story sounds familiar, learning about the benefits of DHEA can help you gain greater insight into your symptoms and how to regain your sense of well-being.
The ABCs of DHEA
You may not have heard of DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), but it’s one of the most important and most abundant hormones in the human body. Your body uses DHEA as a building block for other critical hormones like estrogens and androgens, which means that it is an essential component of peak health. Simply put, if you don’t have enough DHEA, your body won’t be able to function normally, and you won’t feel good.
DHEA levels tend to decline with age, but some people may develop low DHEA levels as a result of poor nutrition, adrenal insufficiency, or even without a specific identifiable cause. Regardless of why you might develop low DHEA levels, people with insufficient DHEA typically experience symptoms such as:
- Low mood
- Difficulty gaining muscle
- Low sex drive
- Compromised immune function
While it isn’t clear whether these effects stem from low levels of DHEA itself or low levels of the hormones which are produced using DHEA as a component, DHEA supplementation may ease your symptoms and restore your body to a healthy hormonal state.
The Multiple Benefits Of DHEA
Your body primarily produces DHEA in your adrenal glands, but also produces some in your ovaries or testes, as well as your brain. In each of these contexts, DHEA plays a slightly different role. This means that DHEA may benefit your health in several diverse ways:
Correcting Hormone Imbalances and Adrenal Conditions
DHEA treatment may have significant benefits for people who suffer from adrenal insufficiency or a hormone imbalance that originates from low levels of DHEA. Having low levels of DHEA can lead to having depressed levels of the hormones which use DHEA as a building block, like testosterone and estrogen. If you’re struggling with health issues such as low testosterone or estrogen deficiency, it’s possible that DHEA treatment could give your body the materials it needs to restore those hormones to their normal levels to feel good again.
Protecting Cardiovascular Health
The fact that DHEA can help normalize the levels of hormones like testosterone and estrogen makes it a powerful health tool, but it also can act on your body’s cells directly to change their behavior. Significantly, emerging evidence suggests that DHEA may offer protective benefits for your cardiovascular system due to its ability to dilate your veins, reduce inflammation, and diminish the risk of harmful blood clots. While more research is needed to more clearly establish a connection, the possibility of using DHEA to promote heart health is an exciting development.
Strengthening Muscles and Bones
According to the latest research, DHEA seems to beneficially interact with muscle tissue in many regions of the body, increasing the rate of fat breakdown and potentially causing increased muscle growth. Additionally, both muscle and bone become more dense when exposed to DHEA. While it is unclear whether it’s possible to reliably induce these effects via DHEA treatment, this beneficial relationship could potentially help your body stay strong and healthy as you age, especially if you are at risk for osteoporosis.
DHEA is believed to play an important role in mood regulation, which helps to explain why people with low DHEA so often experience depressive symptoms and fatigue. Restoring your DHEA to levels may therefore have a significant impact on your emotional well-being and energy levels and give you the critical support necessary to feel like yourself again. In fact, researchers have found that DHEA can improve feelings of general well-being and may even be used to treat major and minor depression.
Improving Sexual Desire and Function
A growing body of evidence also suggests that DHEA treatment can help improve sexual desire and function. One 2013 study found that women diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder experienced a significant increase in sexual desire when treated with DHEA over the course of six weeks. Additionally, DHEA can be used as a vaginal suppository to alleviate vaginal dryness and pain during sex—but topical DHEA probably won’t provide you with the system effects of other forms of DHEA treatment. There is some evidence that DHEA can also improve libido and correct erectile dysfunction in men, but more research is needed to establish a relationship.
Starting DHEA Treatment: Connecting With a Specialist
If you have a hormonal imbalance or are experiencing symptoms like fatigue, depressed mood, and low sex drive, there’s a chance that your DHEA levels are too low and you may benefit from DHEA treatment. In order to ensure accurate diagnosis and high-quality treatment, it’s important to work with a health care practitioner who specializes in hormone health and understands how to address DHEA insufficiency safely and effectively. They will begin by testing your hormone levels and thoroughly assessing your health in order to design a treatment plan that will help you achieve your goals. With the right supports, you can address your physical and emotional symptoms while enhancing overall wellness, helping you feel like yourself again.
BodyLogicMD can help you get started with DHEA treatment with expert care from a highly-trained practitioner who specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and integrative medicine. The practitioners within the BodyLogicMD network are among the top medical professionals in the country and specially certified to help you address hormonal issues like low DHEA so that you can experience the life you deserve. Get started on a customized treatment plan designed to fit your lifestyle and help you reach optimal wellness — contact a local practitioner to schedule your first appointment or take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz today.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.