DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone


Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2000;57(22) 

In This Article


Physiological replacement dosages of oral DHEA in healthy people older than 40 years are in the range of 20-50 mg/day for men and 10-30 mg/ day for women.[2,4,8] These dosages are usually adequate to increase serum DH-EAS to the levels found in adults 20-30 years of age and to bestow the reported benefits of a heightened sense of well-being in both sexes, increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women, and amelioration of erectile dysfunction in men. Higher dosages may be necessary for increasing suppressed DHEA and DHEAS levels secondary to chronic disease, adrenal exhaustion, and corticosteroid therapy. Replacement doses of DHEA are usually taken once daily in the morning.

It is imperative that serum DHEAS concentration be measured before DHEA replacement therapy is started. The serum DHEAS level should be checked at least annually to ensure that it is in the normal range. To minimize adverse effects and maximize benefits, it is suggested that replacement dosages in healthy adults be adjusted to maintain serum levels of DHEAS in the second or third quartile of sex-specific, young-adult ranges.

Pharmacologic dosages of 200 mg/day have been successfully used in patients with SLE. Dosages of 200-500 mg/day have been used in HIV-positive patients with depressed mood and fatigue. It is not known what effect long-term physiological or supraphysiological doses of DHEA may have on suppression of the zona reticularis of the adrenal cortex; however, there does not appear to be feedback inhibition of DHEA or DHEAS secretion by the hypothalamic-pituitary axis.[2]


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