DHEA and fertility

Skrivet den 2012-05-02 @ 14:09:02

DHEA supplementation
is a relatively recent development for female infertility, used primarily in women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). Diminished ovarian reserve occurs either due to premature ovarian aging (POA) in younger women, or as a consequence of female aging. Introduced into fertility treatment by CHR in 2004, DHEA supplementation has, worldwide, demonstrated remarkable results. Many women who had been advised by other fertility centers that their only chance of conception was with egg donation, have still conceived under our care, with use of their own eggs. In those women with diminished ovarian reserve, DHEA supplementation with IVF protocols developed at CHR has, therefore, contributed to life-changing events.
Since the first publication on DHEA in 2005, and following a series of publications refining the utilization of DHEA and expanding understanding of the underlying mechanisms of DHEA, DHEA supplementation has gradually gained worldwide momentum. A survey of IVF centers in 2010 found that about a third of all IVF centers in the world were already utilizing DHEA to improve pregnancy chances in women with DOR by improving quality and quantity of oocytes (eggs) and embryos.

DHEA's Beneficial Effects on Female Fertility
The investigators at CHR have successfully utilized dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA, a mild male hormone that is converted to testosterone and estardiol in the body) for a number of years in women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), whether their low ovarian function is due to advanced age or premature ovarian aging (POA). In doing so, we have been able to demonstrate that in such women, DHEA supplementation has quite remarkable beneficial effects, best summarized as rejuvenating ovarian function. DHEA's effects on women with premature ovarian failure (POF), however, need more research.
Beneficial DHEA Effects on Female Fertility
  • DHEA increases IVF pregnancy rates
  • DHEA increases the number of eggs and embryos
  • DHEA improves the quality of eggs
  • DHEA improves the quality of embryos
  • DHEA reduces aneuploidy (chromosomal abnormalities) in embryos
  • DHEA reduces the risk of miscarriages
  • DHEA shortens the time to pregnancy
  • DHEA increases spontaneous conceptions
  • DHEA improves cumulative pregnancy rates in patients under fertility treatment

DHEA's Side Effects
The most common side effects are oily skin, acne and hair loss.

Unexpected Side Benefits of DHEA
We have been surprised how often we hear from our patients how much better DHEA supplementation makes them feel overall. The likely explanation for this observation is that many women with DOR demonstrate low androgens (male hormones). CHR's investigators are currently exploring this issue further.
  • Improved overall feeling
  • Feeling of being physically stronger
  • Improved sex drive
  • Feeling of being mentally sharper
  • Feeling of better memory
Such claims should not surprise, as other investigators reported that DHEA appears to improve cognitive functions in women (Davis et al., Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2008; 93:801-8). They specifically noted that higher endogenous DHEA levels are independently and favorably associated with executive function, concentration and working memory.


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