What Is It?

DHEA, also known as Dehydroepiandrosterone, S is a simple blood test that measures the levels of DHEA-sulfate. This is a male sex hormone that is present in both men and women. In males it plays a role in the production of testosterone, and in women, the production of estrogen. It also plays a role during puberty in the development of male sexual characteristics. Abnormal DHEA-sulfate (DHEAS) levels may indicate a problem with the adrenal glands or with the sex organs (testicles or ovaries).

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Who Is It For?

Your doctor may recommend this test if you have any symptoms of high or low levels of DHEA-sulfate.

Symptoms of high levels of DHEAS in girls and women may include:

  • Excess body and facial hair growth or hair loss on the top of the head
  • Deepening of the voice and increased muscularity
  • Acne
  • Menstrual irregularities

High levels of DHEAS in men are often asymptomatic. High levels can also be associated with congenital adrenal hyperplasia, adrenal cancer, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Symptoms of low levels of DHEA-sulfate may include:

  • Thinned vaginal tissues in females
  • Erectile dysfunction in males
  • Decreased sex drive

Low levels of DHEAS may also indicate adrenal gland dysfunctions and/or disorders including Addison disease or hypopituitarism.

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Why Is It Important?

DHEAS testing is useful to evaluate the health and function of the two adrenal glands. DHEAS is a useful screening tool for abnormal hormone levels that may be causing the development of masculine features in females, early puberty in males, and lowered libido. It is also used in the diagnosis of disorders of the testicles or ovaries. Results of this screening can be used to inform treatment.

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