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DHEA is a type of steroid hormone made in the adrenal glands and gives rise to the male and female sex hormones, testosterone and oestrogen. Oestrogen is the hormone responsible for the growth of eggs (oocytes) in the ovaries. As women age, their oestrogen levels decrease and there is some evidence to suggest that DHEA supplementation may increase these levels.


Why is DHEA used in IVF/ICSI?

DHEA supplementation may improve follicular sensitivity to follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and therefore improve response to ovarian stimulation in IVF/ICSI as well as improve oocyte quality.

What is the evidence?

A meta-analysis with a large sample size (Chen et al. 2014) suggested that DHEA improved pregnancy rates for poor IVF/ICSI responders, in women with a low ovarian reserve and in those with premature ovarian ageing when compared with the control group. There is currently no evidence of statistical significance to suggest that DHEA improves the number of oocytes retrieved at egg collection, implantation rates or reduces the risk of miscarriage.


Who should use DHEA?

Women who have high FSH levels and low anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels undergoing IVF/ICSI may benefit from the use of DHEA. It is typically recommended to those who have previously responded poorly to FSH due to low ovarian reserve.


Are there any side-effects?

Potential side-effects from DHEA include excessive hair growth, oily skin and acne. In the fertility setting, DHEA is not usually recommended to be taken for longer the three months. There has been one report of a seizure a month post DHEA supplementation and prolonged use can worsen cardiac arrhythmia's, hormone sensitive tumours, increase the risk of bowel cancer and increase the risk of diabetes.


How to get it?

Email a scanned copy of your prescription to Slade Pharmacy, Richmond along with your name and phone number, and they will contact you to arrange payment and postage.

Slade Pharmacy Richmond 

phone: 03 8420 0700




References Chen, Y, Li, L, Li, J, Wu, H, Wu, H &  Yang, C 2014, ‘A meta-analysis of dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation among women with diminished ovarian reserve undergoing in vitro fertilisation or intracytoplasmic sperm injection’, International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, vol. 131, pp. 24 References

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