Maintaining Optimal DHEA Levels in Females: A Health Guide

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Key Information

Role of DHEA in the Body:

  • DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that serves as a precursor to male and female sex hormones, playing a significant role in overall health and well-being.

Symptoms of Low DHEA Levels:

  • Symptoms of low DHEA levels in females can include fatigue, depression, poor concentration, and reduced libido. These symptoms indicate the importance of maintaining balanced DHEA levels.

Testing for DHEA Levels:

  • Testing DHEA levels involves blood tests that can help determine if an individual has optimal, low, or high levels. Consulting a healthcare provider for accurate testing and interpretation is recommended.

Impact of Aging on DHEA Levels:

  • DHEA levels naturally decline with age, starting from around age 30. This decline can affect various aspects of health, emphasizing the need for monitoring and potential intervention.

DHEA Supplementation:

  • Supplementing with DHEA may help improve symptoms of deficiency. However, it should only be done under the guidance of a healthcare provider to avoid potential side effects and ensure appropriate dosing.

Optimal DHEA levels in females can feel like a complex puzzle, but we’re here to help!

You see, our bodies are intricate masterpieces that require balance and harmony to function at their best. But what happens when the scales tip?

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone that helps maintain balance and harmony in our bodies for optimum health. When it’s off-kilter, we feel it.

Maintaining optimal DHEA levels in females is crucial for us ladies to keep shining brightly amidst life’s rollercoaster ride.

Unraveling the Mystery of DHEA


The realm of hormones is as complex as it is fascinating. Amid the intricate and captivating world of hormones, DHEA stands out in particular. This hormone serves an integral role in our bodies by acting as a precursor to other essential sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone.

DHEA production commences within the adrenal glands located above your kidneys. From this point, this versatile hormone travels throughout your body impacting various physiological processes including immune function, bone density regulation, mood management, and notably sexual function.

Intriguingly enough, DHEA levels are not constant over time. They reach their zenith around age 25 then gradually decline each year thereafter with menopausal women experiencing significant drops in their DHEA levels.

Your Journey With Your Body’s Own Hormones

The relationship between you and your body’s own DHEA begins at birth but doesn’t truly flourish until puberty hits its stride during adolescence into early adulthood (ages 20-30). During these years, DHEA levels soar, reaching what we often refer to as youthful levels which represent optimal health where energy abounds along with strong bones and vibrant skin – all thanks to high DHEA levels in cells and tissues that make up our bodies.

However, once midlife arrives, expect those numbers to take a downward turn, leading to eventually low DHEA levels in postmenopausal years, resulting in lower estrogen among symptoms related to hormonal imbalance.

Sailing Through Menopause

If you’re approaching or have already entered the menopause stage, be prepared for changes not just physically but hormonally too. Ovaries ceasing egg production triggers an inevitable shift in hormonal balance, wherein supplementing might become necessary due to dwindling natural supplies within the system.

The transition may seem daunting, especially considering how much influence tiny molecules wield in myriad aspects encompassing overall well-being; however, knowledge empowers us, allowing informed decisions towards maintaining normalcy despite advancing years.

The Impact of Fluctuating DHEA Levels on Women’s Health

optimal DHEA levels in females

Dehydroepiandrosterone, commonly known as DHEA, is a crucial hormone produced by our adrenal glands. DHEA is essential for the production of hormones like estrogen and testosterone. But what happens when these levels fluctuate?

This means many postmenopausal women only have 10%-20% of their youthful DHEA levels left, which can lead to numerous health implications.

Recognizing Symptoms of Low DHEA Levels

At the start, signs of reduced DHEA amounts may be slight but become more obvious as time passes. These include fatigue due to decreased energy production, mood swings from hormonal imbalances, or memory issues.

  • A decrease in sexual desire could also be indicative of lower DHEA levels.
  • Physical changes may occur too, such as hair thinning or excess hair growth depending upon individual genetics coupled with underlying hormonal imbalances.

Causes Behind Changes in DHEA Levels

The dance of hormones within our bodies is complex, and several factors can cause fluctuations. Common causes of changes in DHEA levels include long-term stress, PCOS, raised prolactin levels, and adult-onset congenital hyperplasia.

Stress: The Silent Hormone Disruptor

In today’s fast-paced world, chronic stress has become a silent disruptor of hormonal balance. Your adrenal glands respond to persistent stress by producing cortisol – often dubbed the “stress hormone”. This relentless demand for cortisol may lead to adrenal fatigue which subsequently results in lower production of DHEA.

This imbalance doesn’t just affect overall health; it also contributes specifically towards symptoms associated with low DHEA such as mood swings or decreased sexual desire.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome & Prolific Prolactin

If you’re dealing with PCOS or elevated prolactin due to certain medications or pituitary disorders, this could potentially spike up your DHEA levels. Women grappling with PCOS often exhibit higher than normal DHEA concentrations, linked closely with insulin resistance and excess hair growth – two key features of this syndrome.

In contrast, high prolactin inhibits ovarian function leading to reduced estrogen secretion alongside an increase in the DHEA/DHEAS ratio. These changes create cascading effects throughout the endocrine system, making hormonal harmony elusive at times.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)

A less commonly discussed but significant factor behind variations in DHEA levels is Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH). CAH refers to inherited conditions that impair the ability of adrenal glands to make vital hormones like cortisol, resulting in abnormal ratios between various sex hormones including DHEA/DHEAS. Understanding these potential causes allows us to better manage our hormone health through lifestyle modifications and medical interventions

Understanding Optimal DHEA Levels In Females

The world of hormones can seem like a labyrinth, but with the right tools and knowledge, you can navigate it confidently. One such tool is the DHEA-sulfate test, which provides an accurate measure of your hormone levels.

DHEAS or Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate Blood Test measures the amount of this essential precursor to sex hormones in your bloodstream. It’s simple and non-invasive; all that’s needed is a small blood sample from your arm for laboratory analysis.

Making Sense Of The Numbers

Your healthcare provider will interpret these numbers against reference values representing typical changes in DHEAS levels across different age groups. Interpretations of the numbers take into consideration various factors, including age and overall health.

If high DHEA surfaces during testing, conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or adrenal gland disorders could be at play, causing symptoms including excess hair growth or irregular periods. Conversely, low DHEA might suggest aging-related issues since there’s a natural decline in DHEA production over time, especially noticeable among postmenopausal women.

Tackling Imbalances Head-On

Once results are interpreted by medical professionals, recommendations may follow depending on whether imbalanced hormones have led to lower estrogen symptoms affecting sexual function due to fluctuating hormone DHEA levels detected during testing. DHEA supplements and dietary modifications boosting natural production might become necessary if a very low DHEAS level is detected, making increasing DHEA imperative.

Natural Approaches to Balancing Hormones

Seeking a more natural approach for balancing hormones? Consider the power of lifestyle changes, such as dietary adjustments and stress management techniques. These can significantly influence your hormone production.

Harnessing the Power of Nutrition for Hormonal Balance

A balanced diet is essential when it comes to maintaining optimal DHEA levels. Foods rich in nutrients provide vital vitamins and minerals necessary for proper hormonal function.

  1. Consuming proteins like lean meats or legumes can help keep body weight in check, as well as sustain even blood sugar levels for improved overall health.
  2. Incorporation of healthy fats into meals supports hormonal health too. Avocados, and fatty fish, along with nuts and seeds, contain beneficial monounsaturated fats that play an important role in creating hormones.

The Role of Supplements in Regulating Hormone Production

Supplements may prove useful when working towards restoring balance within our endocrine system. However, it is always important to seek the guidance of a naturopathic doctor before you order supplements.

  • Zinc plays an integral part across many bodily functions, including immune response, cell growth, and division – all areas where hormones hold significant sway (NIH Office Of Dietary Supplements). However, remember not to exceed recommended dosages as high zinc intake could lead to adverse effects such as nausea or weakened immunity and copper deficiency.
  • Magnesium has similar benefits, assisting nerve function while aiding enzyme activities throughout the body (NIH Office Of Dietary Supplements). Magnesium deficiency might result in lower DHEA, so ensuring adequate intake either through food sources or supplementation is advantageous if struggling with symptoms related to low DHEA output from the adrenal glands.

Incorporating Holistic Practices into Your Lifestyle

When you’re on a journey to increase DHEA levels, holistic practices can be an effective way forward. These methods address the whole person – mind, body, spirit, and emotions in pursuit of optimal health.

Mindfulness Meditation: A Stress-Buster

Ancient yet powerful, mindfulness meditation significantly reduces stress. Chronic stress disrupts your hormonal balance, leading to low DHEA production by adrenal glands. By incorporating daily meditative practice, chronic stress becomes manageable.

An interesting study published in Translational Psychiatry showed increased DHEAS levels among individuals practicing mindfulness meditation compared with non-meditators. So consider setting aside time each day for deep breathing exercises or guided meditations.

The Role of Sleep in Hormone Regulation

Sleep isn’t just about rest; it’s also crucial for hormone regulation, including DHEA. Inadequate sleep or poor-quality sleep can hamper this process, resulting in lower DHEA levels among other issues.

Research indicates a strong correlation between good quality sleep and higher concentrations of morning serum DHEAS, especially in women aged 45-50 years old. Hence, aim for at least seven hours per night as part of your holistic approach towards achieving normal DHEA levels.

Maintain Optimal DHEA Levels with Dr. Karen Threlkel

Understanding DHEA and its role in the female body is like unlocking a secret to optimal health.

We’ve delved into this crucial hormone, how it acts as a precursor to others like estrogen and testosterone, and why it peaks around age 25 only to gradually decrease each year thereafter.

You now know that fluctuations in DHEA levels can lead to symptoms such as depression, brittle bones, and menstrual irregularities among other signs of imbalance.

Chronic tension, polycystic ovary syndrome, or heightened prolactin can all be contributory factors to these fluctuations.

We’ve explored how testing for imbalances with a simple blood test known as the “DHEA-sulfate test” can help assess your hormonal state accurately.

Balancing hormones naturally through dietary changes incorporating proteins and healthy fats; supplements like zinc or magnesium; managing stress through meditation; and getting adequate sleep – all play an integral part in maintaining optimal health.

If you’re seeking guidance on navigating your way toward achieving optimal DHEA levels in females, schedule an appointment with Dr. Karen Threlkel.

About The Author:

Picture of Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Karen Threlkel, Naturopathic Physician, Washington DC

Dr. Threlkel received her degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from The National College for Naturopathic Medicine (now called The National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, Oregon. She also holds a Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology from The University of Maryland. She is licensed in Naturopathic Medicine by the Government of the District of Columbia Department of Health. Dr. Threlkel is a member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, past president & current member of the Washington DC Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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