If you have a testosterone deficiency, I wouldn’t blame you if you set out to try every possible solution out there until you find something that works. Testosterone is the one hormone that defines the very essence of masculinity. When you are short of it, you won’t feel too good. And it’s more than just a state of mind - there will be a noticeable deterioration in multiple aspects of everyday health you would ordinarily not pay much attention to. Among the raft of testosterone fixes you may run into? DHEA. Let’s check it out.
What is DHEA?
DHEA is dehydroepiandrosterone. That is probably not too helpful but hang on, we are getting to the fun part. DHEA is a steroid hormone and is mainly made by the adrenal glands though there are small amounts from elsewhere like the testes/ovaries, brain, skin and fat tissue. Sitting atop the kidneys, adrenal glands are also the source of aldosterone and the stress-related hormone cortisol. DHEA is produced by the conversion of cholesterol.
The body’s DHEA levels peak around age 20-24 in men (15-19 years in women) then progressively decline with age reaching just 10-20 percent of highest levels by the time you are 70-80 years old. For this reason, there is a market for DHEA supplements available in either topical cream or oral tablet form.
What is its role in the body?
DHEA’s full raft of roles is not completely understood but there’s been a lot of progress over the years showing what it does. For starters, your body can convert it into testosterone and estrogen. More on this (especially testosterone) in a sub-section further down.
DHEA invigorates neurons in the central nervous system which can improve muscle performance and efficiency. The evidence is strong - so strong that the DHEA is classified as a banned anabolic agent by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Top benefits of DHEA
DHEA and testosterone
DHEA is a precursor to testosterone. The body can convert DHEA into testosterone. So going by that simplified logic, DHEA supplements will increase your testosterone levels. But science does not always align with seemingly rational assumptions so what do studies say? We are about to find out.
Does science confirm any of this?
On the matter of increasing testosterone levels which is what this article is primarily about, studies do for the most part indicate a connection between DHEA supplementation and higher testosterone. In 2013, researchers found that DHEA increased free testosterone in middle-aged men. A more recent (2020) review of multiple stufdies established that DHEA supplementation increased free testosterone in both men and women though the increase was higher in women.
Admittedly, the research still has some way to go in establishing without any shadow of doubt how DHEA interplays with testosterone though this is not a situation unique to DHEA (the study of human hormones is still work in progress). Nevertheless, the signs so far have mostly pointed to a positive correlation.
Are there any side effects?
It’s a banned substance in certain circles so that alone is a strong hint DHEA does have significant side effects.Usually, small doses of 50 mg per day shouldn’t cause an adverse reaction. Some of the side effects of excess DHEA doses include oily skin, acne, fatigue, insomnia and, in women, male-pattern body/facial hair growth. In more severe cases, users could experience mania, heart palpitations, high blood pressure and a reduction of good cholesterol. Persons diagnosed with liver disease should not use DHEA.
A DHEA supplement is probably something you should avoid unless your doctor considers it the best option on the table. The side effects are not worth the risk if you really don’t need to be using it. You are better off going with testosterone boosters like Testo-Max or TestoPrime. Testosterone boosters act indirectly by stimulating the body’s own natural production of testosterone. They are far less likely to cause a hormonal imbalance or increase your testosterone levels to heights that do not do you good in the long run.