DHEA is the most abundant hormone in your body, yet few women have ever heard of it. Fewer can pronounce its twenty-two lettered scientific name, Dehydroepiandrosterone.
Think of DHEA as your battery, your reserve fuel. Without DHEA you have trouble activating your thyroid hormone. You can take all the Synthroid, (the most commonly prescribed thyroid medication), in the world, but without enough DHEA your body may not feel any beneficial thyroid effects.
DHEA is made by your adrenal glands. Young men and women have a lot but as we age our levels fall. When you are busy, chronically stressed and not taking time to refuel, DHEA levels fall faster than normal.
Most doctors just accept low levels as “typical aging,” but do you want to age typically?
DHEA helps an “over 50 woman” regulate cortisol, and make serotonin, estrogen, and testosterone. If your DHEA is low you are at risk for immune problems like frequent colds or autoimmune disease. Low DHEA can also result in bone loss, depression, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, dementia and even heart disease.
Could low DHEA be why you can’t lose weight, can’t sleep at night, or stay awake after lunch?
Ask your doctor to measure DHEA-S in your blood. (DHEA-S is the stable form of DHEA) Most labs can do this and most insurance companies will cover testing.
When your doctor tells you “it’s normal,” ask for the number. You want to keep your DHEA-S level above 150, some suggest aiming as high as 200.
DHEA is available in most health food stores, but most doses recommended are too high for most women. Most women need only 2 to 10 mg/day (a typical male dose is 25 to 50 mg/day). If your level goes too high you could develop pimples, facial hair or hair thinning. The 7-keto form of DHEA is less likely to cause these side effects, and is readily available over the counter.
Start with a low dose, say 5 mg in the morning, on an empty stomach. Use it for a few weeks. You should notice more energy and a better sense of well-being. If not, increase to 10 or 15 mg.
I recommend taking breaks. Use it for a couple of months, then break for a couple of weeks. DHEA can also be used vaginally. Your doctor can write a script for DHEA vaginal suppositories and any compounding pharmacy can make it for you. Most women notice 25 to 50 mg inserted 2 to 3 times per week enhances orgasm and improve vaginal dryness. Think of it as female Viagra.
Don’t be afraid of DHEA. It is an important adrenal hormone, sadly overlooked as we age.