Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in women

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DHEA is oftentimes referred to as the "mother of all hormones" because it fuels the hormone pathway - a term that refers to the body's delicate interplay of hormones. Women rely on adequate levels of DHEA to balance other key hormones throughout the body, such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. DHEA in women is produced by the adrenal glands. As women age, DHEA levels - like most hormones - begin to decline. However age isn't the only culprit.

Have you ever heard of "the stress hormone," known as cortisol? Well like DHEA, cortisol is also produced by the adrenals, as is adrenaline - two hormones that assist in the body's "fight or flight" response to stress. Although we rely on hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to help prepare the body for stressful situations, chronic stress can cause the adrenal glands to work overtime, and while the adrenals are preoccupied, pumping out large quantities of cortisol and adrenaline, they can't produce enough DHEA.

Low levels of DHEA in women can cause symptoms including:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Aching joints
  • Low libido

On the other hand, adequate DHEA levels can help women:

  • Boost libido
  • Rebuild muscle mass
  • Lose weight
  • Improve memory
  • Boost the immune system
  • Promote flexibility
  • Raise energy levels

If you suspect that the symptoms you're experiencing may translate into a DHEA imbalance, hormone testing is available to determine where you stand, hormonally. With the "mother load" of benefits associated with DHEA, it is definitely worth seeing your doctor to check your levels. As with any supplement, you should consult your doctor before taking DHEA. For women, a close eye should be kept on estrogen levels to ensure they do not go too high, an important key to help lower the risk of certain diseases, including breast, ovarian and other hormone-sensitive cancers.

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