Improving egg quality: Why to NOT be afraid of DHEA

 dhea helps with fertility

I often get asked whether DHEA itself is a hormone, as most women feel uneasy with that word and would not supplement any hormones.

As you may have already realized, the answer is: YES and NO.

YES in the sense that many hormones are built by using DHEA as raw material, and NO in the sense that DHEA itself is not some crazy steroid you should be afraid of.

DHEA is produced naturally in our adrenal glands in large amounts, every day.

Some women are surprised to hear that, as they often expect a synthetic compound to hide behind that name.

The reason why our bodies need a lot of DHEA is because it is a basic building block for most sexual and steroid hormones. Hormones act as important messengers and affect how we act, feel, and sleep; they drive our immune response and basically every other function in our body.

DHEA concentration declines in our bodies as we get older: it peaks between the ages of 20-25 and then declines at a rate of about 20% per decade, falling in the elderly to levels of less than 10% of initial values.

So if you are trying to get pregnant at the age of 35 and above, there is less DHEA for your ovaries to work with from the beginning.

Therefore, if you want to increase your fertility at that age, you will most likely need to supplement DHEA to bring your eggs and ovaries to the best form possible.

However, if you have any medical conditions you should talk to your doctor before self-administering DHEA.

How much DHEA should you take for fertility?

Many women feel unsure about taking DHEA over a longer periods of time. Some are unsure about the potency of the product they’re taking. And almost all wonder about how much DHEA should they take to achieve best effects.


improve egg quality with DHEA

Image courtesy: jannoon028 at

This is understandable – supplements are not strictly regulated by FDA meaning that supplements from different manufacturers CAN sometimes have different potencies.

Therefore, if you are taking DHEA supplements similar to this one over a long time or just want to be on the safe side, here is what you should do:

Have your total testosterone levels checked.

Ideally, testosterone should stay around normal YOUNG ADULT levels.

This means, greater than 30 ng/dL (between 1-2  nmol/ml).

To summarize, DHEA is simply an important building block in our bodies.

The nice thing is, cells suck up DHEA directly from the blood and decide themselves what they will transform it into.

And if those cells are your eggs getting ready to ovulate, you need to make sure DHEA is available when they look for it.

See you soon!


Scientific reports on DHEA improving egg and embryo quality:

  • Barad D, Gleicher N. Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone on oocyte and embryo yields, embryo grade and cell number in IVF. Hum Reprod . 2006 Nov;21(11):2845-9.
  • Barad DH, Gleicher N. Increased oocyte production after treatment with dehydroepiandrosterone. Fertil Steril. 2005 Sep;84(3):756.
  • Gleicher N, Barad DH. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation in diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2011 May 17;9:67.
    Morales AJ, Haubrich RH, Hwang JY, Asakura H, Yen SS. The effect of six months treatment with a 100 mg daily dose of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on circulating sex steroids, body composition and muscle strength in age-advanced men and women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1998 Oct;49(4):421-32.
    Tummala S, Svec F. Correlation between the administered dose of DHEA and serum levels of DHEA and DHEA-S in human volunteers: analysis of published data. Clin Biochem. 1999 Jul;32(5):355-61.


2018-06-19T09:17:27+00:00 January 9th, 2014|Tags: , , |

About the Author:

Darja Wagner, a PhD cell biologist combines her knowledge of cells, hormones and vitamins to help women with infertility issues. She is the author of the blog "All About Egg Health: How to Get Pregnant After 35". Darja helps women to apply latest advances in reproductive biology to maximize egg quality for higher chances of conception, in either a natural way or by means of assisted reproductive technology.


  1. R June 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Hi Darja,

    Very interesting blog and thank you for this.
    There are different types of DHEA in the market. Which one are you talking about 1. DHEA or 2. 7-keto DHEA
    3. micronized DHEA?


  2. darja April 16, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Please see the recommendations above. Thank you for an important question!

  3. Anna GP April 18, 2015 at 12:47 am

    Hi Darja,

    I read your book and it is very interesting. I try to do all your recommendations.

    I bought Fertinatal DHEA but I didn’t take it yet, I start my next IVF cycle next month and I want to know if I can take DHEA during my IVF cycle (stimulations, egg retrieval, ecc.)

    • darja April 23, 2015 at 9:33 am

      Dear Anna,
      As stated in the Disclaimer, I am not entitled to answer questions related to medical procedures and stimulation protocols. I only can tell you that according to published research (and there were over 60 studies on DHEA at about the time when I wrote this artice, now there are probably many more), best results in terms of improved egg quality could be achieved after 4-5 months of CONTINUOS supplementation.

  4. Marie April 23, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Dear Darja,

    I have been told by my IVF clinic that I have great egg quantity but bad egg quality I am 31 years old. Is it ok for me to take DHEA supplements before 35 to try to improve my egg quality?

  5. Debbie May 24, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Hi Darja, I have a similar question to Marie’s: I’m 31 but have had labs to determine cause of my infertility and I have Low-T (< 3 ng/dL). Everything I read on DHEA is with regard to women over 35 or 40. Does it really matter what age you are if you know you have Low-T? Thank you!

    • darja October 23, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      if you have low testosterone, you are likely to benefit from DHEA in any age, meaning also with 31. but i always recommend talking to a fertility specialist before self-administering DHEA and checking the testosterone levels 2-3 months following the supplementation. best wishes, darja

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