6 Causes of High DHEA (& DHEA-S) Levels in Women + How to Lower it

Are you suffering from high DHEA-s?

If so maybe you are experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain or signs of hirsutism.

All of these symptoms and more may be caused by high levels of DHEA, but the question is what causes high DHEA to begin with?

Once you understand WHY your DHEA levels are high then you can begin to talk about how to lower them and treat the problem.

This guide will walk you through the primary causes of high DHEA levels and, more importantly, what to do about it: ​

More...

What is DHEA?

DHEA stands for dehydroepiandrosterone which is a fancy name given to the most ​abundant circulating steroid hormone in the human body

DHEA, and it's sulfated form DHEA-S, is responsible for several different actions inside the cell and it's unique ability to act as a hormone precursor for both estrogen and testosterone. 

DHEA is very well known for its ability to convert into estrogen or testosterone (depending on the circumstances), but it also has direct cellular action by itself. 

DHEA helps regulate immune function and acts on cells through an androgen receptor (1) (which is why low levels may lead to reduced libido and why high levels may cause symptoms of excess androgens). 

Understanding how DHEA works helps us understand why it's important to have enough of it in the body (not too much or too little). 

DHEA is very much a Goldilocks type of steroid and androgen in the body. 

What do I mean?

Studies have indicated that there is an increase in mortality (2) (increase in death) in patients who have too little or too much DHEA. 

Mortality in women with high and low DHEA

We can, therefore, interpret this to mean we want just the right amount of DHEA for optimal cellular function. 

How do you know if you have high DHEA?

Most patients with high DHEA present with several key symptoms that trigger further testing which results in their Doctor finding high DHEA in their blood.

What kind of symptoms can you expect if you have high DHEA?​

Symptoms of excessive serum DHEA-s and DHEA: 

  • Generalized fatigue or low energy
  • Weight gain
  • Male patterned baldness or hair loss (in women and in men)
  • Hirsutism
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Irritability, anger or depression (and other changes in mood)
  • Infertility
  • Changes to your voice (a deeper voice in women)
  • Changes to muscle structure (increase in muscle mass)
  • Reduction in breast size
  • Known history of PCOS
  • Recent history of stress

The symptoms listed above are NOT normal and the presence of any of them should trigger further testing for adrenal hormones, cortisol, and DHEA levels

Now that we have some basic information on DHEA let's talk about what causes high DHEA. ​

6 Causes of High DHEA in Women

Before we jump into the causes let's establish what a high level of DHEA is. 

You can see an example below: ​

High DHEA Lab tests and reference range

This patient has high DHEA-S with a value of 363.5 ug/dL with a reference range of 41.2 - 243.7. 

This example is easy to diagnose because this patient falls outside of the given reference range.

But it is possible to have high-normal DHEA that causes symptoms in your body.

Part of this has to do with how your cells tolerate DHEA (hypersensitivity syndrome is discussed below).

The point is you need to be looking for an "optimal range" and in this case, it's usually best for DHEA to be above 100 ug/dL but lower than 200 ug/dL.

In my clinical experience, it seems that women with DHEA-S levels over 200 ug/dL tend to experience the symptoms of androgen excess even though they are technically "normal". 

​#1. Chronic Daily Stress


One of the most common causes of high DHEA is constant and persistent daily stress. 

This is both a good and a bad thing...

It's good in the sense that diagnosing the cause is relatively easy, and it's hard in the sense that removing stress is something that most of us are not very good at.

How does stress lead to high DHEA?

In order to understand this relationship, we need to understand what stress does to the body. 

Stress (really any cause of stress) stimulates a reaction in your body which activates a cascade of events in your HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-axis).

The activation of this axis results in hormone precursors that signal to your adrenal glands to produce hormone to combat the stress you are under.

High DHEA in women

Usually, we associate this cascade with the release of cortisol (which is our "stress" hormone) and little attention is given to DHEA. 

The truth is that stress causes the release of BOTH DHEA and cortisol from your adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands are non-discriminatory in the sense that their activation will lead to a release of more than just one hormone.

​The release of cortisol and DHEA then act on your cells and immune system to allow for adaptation to "tolerate" the stress you are under. 

This cascade of hormones and changes usually isn't a problem until the cascade is triggered too often.

Constant daily stress may lead to high circulating levels of DHEA and/or cortisol which then cause disruption to your immune system and other hormone systems.

​For instance:

Stress has been shown to result in the rapid development of insulin resistance (3) (which may worsen weight gain) while chronic stress has been shown to suppress both cellular and humoral immunity (4).

​The bottom line? 

If your DHEA levels have been shown to be elevated AND you believe that stress may be playing a role you will want to take several steps:

  • If possible find and eliminate the source of stress -> in some cases this won't be possible so you may need to take further action to improve your "tolerance" of the stressful stimuli. 
  • Consider supplementing with the adrenal adaptogen Ashwagandha -> Ashwagandha has been shown in studies to reduce enzyme production in patients with adrenal hyperplasia (5) which may result in a direct reduction in androgen production in some individuals. Ashwagandha has also been shown to help balance cortisol levels which is also helpful if stress is worsening your DHEA. You can read my complete guide to using Ashwagandha here. Use a high-quality supplement with at least 500mg per day but note that some people may need up to 2,000mg per day. 
  • Consider further supplementation to improve adrenal function and treat chronic fatigue, you can find a complete guide and list here
  • Take steps to reduce the impact stress has on your life by adopting certain behavioral changes: get 8 hours of sleep at night, reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars and exercise regularly (but not too much). 

​These steps will help you get started in the right direction but may not be sufficient for every person. 

#2. PTSD


Another very common cause of high DHEA is PTSD (6).

Post-traumatic stress disorder is disorder which results in multiple changes to hormone systems, the HPA axis and immune function over time. 

What's more interesting is that the incidence of PTSD is at least 1% which estimates putting it as high as 15% of the general population of the US (7).

This is particularly important as it relates to DHEA.

Why?

Because studies have shown that PTSD results in documented high DHEA (8):

High DHEA in women with PTSD

Unlike chronic stress (which we discussed above) PTSD generally results in high DHEA and low cortisol. 

The hormonal systems seen in PTSD suggest that this condition exerts a power and negative stimulus on the HPA system. 

This condition is important to mention for several reasons...

First:

The diagnosis of PTSD may be missed as many patients may present with very generalized and non-specific symptoms. 

This means that getting an accurate diagnosis becomes very important. 

Second:

Treatment relies heavily upon the correct diagnosis and making targeted changes to reduce the impact of PTSD on your life. 

Treatment may be complex and depends on the severity and cause of PTSD in each individual. 

In addition to therapies such as counseling, patients may consider advanced techniques such as EMDR (9).

#3. PCOS


Next on the list is PCOS.

PCOS is actually one of the more common causes of elevated DHEA among women (along with stress and PTSD).

In fact, high androgens should prompt further work up into estrogen/progesterone levels to evaluate for PCOS.

It's important to realize that PCOS is really just a combination of hormone imbalances that includes the following: 

  • Elevated estrogen
  • Low progesterone
  • High insulin
  • High Testosterone/DHEA

Studies have shown that PCOS likely has some hereditary component (10).

The brothers of women who have PCOS seem to show elevated DHEA levels (along with those women). 

The difference is that males tend to tolerate higher levels of DHEA because men have higher levels of androgens at baseline.

​The good news is that elevated DHEA secondary to PCOS can be treated by targeting the hormone imbalances associated with this condition. 

I've put together a natural treatment guide for PCOS that you can see here

I will leave the basic 7 step process below as well: 

  • 1. Optimize your diet
  • 2. Exercise regularly
  • 3. Use the right supplements
  • 4. Reduce and manage your stress
  • 5. Address other hormone imbalances
  • 6. Avoid certain medications that may mask PCOS symptoms (birth control medications)
  • 7. Consider the use of certain prescription medications (if necessary)

​You can also find more information about how to supplement for PCOS in this post

#4. Elevated Prolactin


​#4 isn't as common as the other 3 but it's worth mentioning here. 

​Prolactin is the hormone that normally promotes milk production in humans (and other mammals). 

Normally prolactin should really only be produced in high quantities after pregnancy to promote milk production for children.

Some conditions (like microadenomas) may result in excessive production in prolactin during periods that are not considered "normal".

High prolactin levels tend to suppress the menstrual cycle (which is why some women do experience a birth control like effect when breastfeeding) by making changes to hormone levels in the body.

Prolactin has also been shown to directly increase DHEA levels and the presence of DHEA levels (11) (with a negative workup) should prompt evaluation into serum prolactin levels.

The good news is that assessing for high prolactin is quite easy and can be accomplished with basic serum testing.

If your prolactin level is elevated studies have shown that taking certain medications may help lower prolactin and therefore lower DHEA levels.

#5. Hypersensitivity to DHEA & Androgens at the Cellular Level


I've included this topic on the list because it's very important but not necessarily a cause of high DHEA.

Instead, this condition may lead to high normal levels of DHEA and DHEA-s accompanied by symptoms associated with high DHEA (all of those we discussed above).

This can make diagnosis difficult for patients who fit into this spectrum which is why we are discussing it here.

Basically what is happening in this condition is that your cells become hypersensitive to even normal levels of androgens and DHEA.

Under normal conditions, DHEA interacts with androgen receptors on certain cells (think hair follicles and immune cells) to promote normal cell function.

In hypersensitivity syndromes, the exact same amount of androgen causes an exaggerated response which triggers over cell stimulation and the symptoms of excess DHEA/androgens.

In hair follicles, this might mean increased hair growth or male patterned baldness.

While this process is not well understood it's what is felt to occur secondary to immune activation and it is seen in conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (12) and androgenetic alopecia (hair loss) (13).

Remember that patients with this condition may present with completely normal labs but all of the symptoms associated with high DHEA and high androgens.

Treatment for this condition should be targeted at the immune issues (if present) and any underlying hormone imbalances. ​

#6. Nonclassic Adrenal Hyperplasia (Late-onset adrenal hyperplasia)


Another uncommon cause of high DHEA is nonclassic adrenal hyperplasia (14) (otherwise known as adult-onset congenital hyperplasia). 

This condition is an autosomal recessive genetic disease which tends to present later in life. 

high testosterone from high DHEA

Women with this condition tend to have normal menses and pubertal growth patterns but symptoms of androgen excess tend to present later in life. 

In addition, serum DHEA levels may be elevated when checked. 

The condition stems from overproduction/efficiency of certain adrenal enzymes which cause the production of excessive amounts of androgens. 

Patients with this condition present with high DHEA levels along with symptoms such as acne, hirsutism, alopecia, and issues with fertility/menstruation. 

Again, this isn't a common diagnosis but it should be considered (15) if the cause of your elevated DHEA is unknown. 

*Remember that ashwagandha has been shown to be effective in reducing DHEA in this condition (discussed above). 

DHEA and Weight Gain​

Many women who have high DHEA also tend to have weight gain.

This begs the question:

Does high DHEA cause weight gain?

The answer turns out to be slightly more complex than that.

Remember that the 3 most common causes of high DHEA include the following conditions: Stress, PTSD and PCOS.

ALL of these conditions are associated with other hormonal abnormalities which are likely contributing to weight gain seen in these patients.

Stress by itself has been shown to cause high cortisol, a reduction in sleep, insulin resistance in addition to high DHEA levels.

PCOS includes high estrogen and leptin resistance which directly causes weight gain.

PTSD is often associated with mood changes/neurotransmitter changes which may alter diet and appetite.

​Taken at face value it seems that the DHEA is probably NOT responsible for weight gain directly, but instead weight gain is the result of other hormone imbalances that tend to accompany high DHEA. 

What does this mean for you?

​If you have high DHEA and you are experiencing weight gain then your goal should be to find and treat the underlying cause of your high DHEA. 

This will be the most effective way to lose weight. ​

Back to you

DHEA is an important hormone that needs to be in just the "right" range. 

Everyday conditions such as stress may negatively impact DHEA and cause the symptoms of androgen excess.

If you are experiencing high DHEA the most important thing you can do is find the CAUSE and then target your treatment at that.

I've included the 6 most common causes of high DHEA in this article with the 3 most common being PCOS, stress and PTSD.

​Now I want to hear from you:

Do you have high DHEA? Are you experiencing the symptoms of androgen excess?

If so, has lowering your DHEA helped reduce these symptoms?

Leave your comments below! ​

References (Click to Expand)

Dr. Westin Childs

Dr. Westin Childs is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. He provides well-researched actionable information about hormone-related disorders and formulates supplements to treat these disorders.He is trained in Internal Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Integrative Medicine. His focus is on managing thyroid disorders, weight loss resistance, and other sex hormone imbalances.You can read more about his own personal journey here.

98 thoughts on “6 Causes of High DHEA (& DHEA-S) Levels in Women + How to Lower it”

  1. Hello Dr. Childs. I have been pretty discouraged for years now since I experience symptoms of high androgens since I was 11 years old. I have been told at 19 that I have PCOS. However, I have a very accurate menstrual cycle every month. I also have no fertility issues. I had no trouble becoming pregnant and birthing two healthy babies. The symptoms that bother me are heavy menstruation, excess facial and body hair, premature grey hair, plus fatigue and mood swings. I just feel like my symptoms dont really line up with PCOS. I also feel the doctors I have been to dont want to investigate further. I have had an extensive hormone test done and the only two things that were abnormal were DHEAs and low vitamin D. My DHEAs were around 418 when the highest range for ages 20-29 was 380. So although its not excessively its still high and i certainely see the effects. Also adding in, that my weight has fluctuated over the years and I’m currently slightly overweight, but even when on a healthy weight i still experienced high androgen symptoms. Do I really sound like a case for PCOS just based on the info I have provided?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Bellie,

      There are atypical forms of PCOS which could be how you are presenting. In addition you may have undiagnosed Hashimoto’s or sub optimal thyroid function which can lead to all of the symptoms you are describing. You should have your thyroid antibody levels assessed if you haven’t already.

    • Hello BellieE, I have many of the same symptoms and I’m wondering if you have found any useful resources since this posting. If so, I’d love to hear them and you can email me at [email protected]
      Thank you for your time!

  2. Dear Dr. Child’s,
    I recently tested my hormone levels and found out my DHEA was high but normal at 262. I am experiencing hair loss, too much hair on face and body, depression, fatigue, etc. After reading your article I have two questions.
    I recently cared for my mother who had a severe stroke in 2009 and another worse one in 2015 that eventually took her life. It was very stressful to me. My father also had PTSD from having fought in one of the most horrific battles in Ww2 (Tarawa). Is it possible that I inherited, either physically or mentally, the cause of DHEA high levels from my fathers condition?

    • Hi Caroline,

      It’s certainly possible that you have a genetic predisposition to developing high DHEA. Some studies have suggested that there is a male PCOS equivalent in males that is generally hidden due to the fact that they tolerate high androgens better than women.

      • I too am at the upper range of normal, and do have hashimoto’s. I exhibit symptoms of PCOS,(thinning hair, moon face, hirutism, etc), but nothing shows in the ultrasounds, or any other test I have taken. What can I do to assuage these symptoms?

  3. I just got results back recently that I have high DHEA-S 525mcg/dL (reference range 18-391). I’ve been experiencing gradual hairloss/thinning since college 6 years ago. My family and hairdresser noticed it before I did. I had assumed it was a result of stress related to nursing school. Years later, I’m still experiencing it. I did also have issues with weight during college, but that did seem to resolve after college when I was less stressed and able to commence a healthier eating/exercise habit. I still have occasional acne, but nothing to write home about. My period is tolerable and regular enough for me. My dermatologist didn’t seem to think that my DHEA-S was high enough to be related to my hair issues (although he did diagnose me with androgenetic alopecia), but I almost hope that it is! All my thyroid, blood counts, and Vitamin D are normal. I would be curious to see if treating my high DHEA-S would help. My dermatologist recommended that I seek the advice of my primary doctor or an endocrinologist.

    • Hello! I was just wondering if you have an update on your story? I am 49, also an RN, and my formerly very thick/wavy hair has started thinning a lot. My DHEA was 261, and was thought to be the culprit. I was placed on 100mg aldactone, but it’s not working. I’m very worried about continued loss…

    • Hi Dr. Child’s,

      I’m curious as to why you didn’t mention adrenal cancer or tumor as a cause of high DHEA? Isn’t that one of the causes?

      • Hi Cindy,

        Yes, that is a cause but this article focuses on those causes of high DHEA which are likely to be missed. It’s very rare when a physician misses cancer but it’s quite frequent when a physician downplays the importance of something like stress in someone’s life.

  4. Hi Dr Childs,
    Thank you for an outstanding website.
    My DHEA levels are high 211 on a 8-180 range. I have male pattern hair loss from 27 years soon after I was on the pill. I stopped it after 6 years but the hair fall continued. I have seen hundreds of doctors worldwide with no help. I even had to wear a wig for a few years. Subsequently I stopped using every single chemical, cleaned up my diet ( only fresh vegetarian food every meal) and eventually grew just enough hair to not wear a wig. Still the density of hair on the crown is far far less than on the back or sides of the head. I feel terrible to not have the full head of hair my grandmother had even in her 80’s.

    I was subclinical hypothyroid for 15 years with no treatment and had tremendous chronic fatigue, quit working and tried Chinese medicine, ayurveda, yoga etc since the normal medical system proved futile.
    I was finally diagnosed as hypothyroid and somehow managed to get NDT 1.5 grains. Yet this amount reduces the TSH to around 0.05. If I reduce NDT from 1.5 grains I don’t feel so good. Is this low tsh connected with my hair loss which is at its worst now.
    Also, I possibly had very low ferritin for 20 years since I had every single symptom listed on your website. The doctors gave me lots of iron capsules but nothing brought my Hb up. Today my ferritin is 40. I do not have PTSD. I am 57 and have 1.5 grains NDT.

    Do you think I need to eat lots of organic meat to bring my ferritin level up faster and possibly my DHEA would come down too?

    Are ferritin levels and DHEA related at all?

    The curious thing about my hair is that each strand grows very very fast in LENGTH but the density of hair in every inch of scalp is very low esp on the crown. I remember you mentioning this as a symptom of something? The dermatologist says that he sees all the follicles of hair on the crown, yet he does not know why they were not growing hair.

    I have tried Ashwagandha several times before and it created excess heat in my body at that time. Yet I will give it another try.

    In your experience does higher ferritin help with better absorption of ashwagandha?

    Do you think that a vegan diet is in part responsible for the very low ferritin? What are the fastest ways of increasing ferritin?

    Is a 24 hour cortisol test necessary when the serum cortisol is fine?
    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Mary,

      There isn’t enough information for me to provide definitive answers to your questions. If you are trying to increase your ferritin through diet then you may have more luck using consuming liver over traditional meats.

  5. The past 3 years I’ve been experiencing hair loss. First it was mostly one side and one temple it has since progress to both, and all over thinning along with sever hair breakage. Usually the hair breaks until it falls out. Countless tests over the past couple years show always slight over range dheas. Testosterone has always been normal until this last round of tests which show total just over range and free high end. I suffered severe stress 4 years ago that last almost 2 years. My iron is fine now thyroid tested and free t 3 is 2.6 low end of range. I’ve never had any issues to cause me to think pcos I’m 48. The hair is the worse symptom. My question is how do I lower these things and is it possible to regrow any of the hair lost? I’m so devastated by this an no one has been of any help they all say I’m fine :(. Please help ..thanks in advance

    • Hi hdxlh19961997-
      I’m 47 and I have similar case as you and the same question, 2 years ago my hair was down to my waist and now it is barely pass my ears and to think to do anything with. I hope you find some answers or the doctor is able to give you referral/hope. Email me if you would like to talk, its hard for others to understand how devastating this is…

      • G.P

        Hi, well I have done a few things to lower my dheas to a normal range all my testosterone levels are also lower. The dheas haven’t been in range since my hairloss nightmare started so I was thrilled and hoping for positive improvements. That was in December the test were done. The hair is still receding and thin sides and nape temples etc. idk what to do now stress levels have been down but thyroid only showed slight improvement in free t levels I wish I had answers or even hope but I’m losing hope. These pages have a ton of info but don’t seem to want to help much past that. I’m beginning to wonder if they truly help anyone like us email if you like not sure what I could say to help but yes life changing when you lose your hair this way

  6. Dear Dr. Childs
    I recently checked my hormone levels ,prolactin was too high 59 and the highest range is 29 , also my DHEAS was 360 it was in the normal range but still its very high, i had a problem with PCOS two years ago but only got treated for High prolactin Level , and honestly am kinda scared because get pregnant in the near future , am 23 Y.

    Thanks in advance

  7. I’m a 64 yr.old woman with fibromyalgia. 6wks ago I came down with shingles. The last few months I’ve been very tired and achy and lately my joints are swelling and my DHEA-S is 1247,RDW(sd)51.7,RDW(cv)15.8,GFR 60,HDL45, and Potassium 5.3. Those are the only real out liers.

    • Hi Shauda,

      Under each section is a small list of supplements that may help. You need to identify why you have high DHEA first before you can begin treatment. If you aren’t sure then you can consider the use of supplements designed to reduce insulin/inflammation/stress.

  8. Hello my dhea sulfate level is 267. I’m 37 yrs old and have been experiencing hair lost since about 15. What does that mean and what can I do about it. Thank you

    • Hi Michele,

      The first step is to try and find the cause of your high DHEA (in most cases it’s related to insulin resistance or PCOS).

  9. Hi there – I’m 32, female, and have been experiencing increased levels of acne, mood swings/irritability, and some hirsutism for the past year or two. Because of this I had my blood tested, which revealed slightly elevated DHEA-S of 349 (normal range 23 – 266). My testosterone and thyroid levels are normal, as well as cortisol levels (they tested this for cushing’s). My doc is telling me there’s not much else to do at this point, but the fact is that I’m still experiencing these negative symptoms, so I’d like to figure out what’s causing this and how I can treat it. I had to push for an endocrinologist appt so am waiting to be seen by them. I did have a stressful year leading up to this so I could see that being the start of all this. Any thoughts on my situation and what could be underlying, and the best way to treat? It feels like my doc and the endo are saying “yes, it’s slightly high, but there’s nothing that we can treat” – but I’m not willing to settle for that and just live with these negative symptoms. I appreciate any insight you could provide to point me in the right direction.

    • Hi Noelle,

      You should have your other sex hormones, thyroid and cortisol levels evaluated. Stress could have also caused problems with cortisol or other hormones (including your thyroid).

  10. Hello,

    I have a high DHEAS level. It was 391 (reference range up to 380). I do not have insulin resistance, and I do have 32-35 day cycles with ovulation. My testosterone was high but has come down to normal range with spearmint tea and nettles. Is there any sort of supplement that directly lowers DHEAS? Also would ashwagandha raise testosterone? I have read in studies that it does but was hoping it would lower DHEAS!

  11. Has anyone regrowth hair losses to high dhea-s? Mine seems to have lowered some but the hair is still so bad and continuing down the loss Road. I’m losing hope

  12. Hello,

    I had some bloodwork done after not having a period for close to two months. It was all normal except for my DHEA-S levels, which alarmingly showed to be about 850 (reference range 35-450). I have no idea how to go about this, and what steps I may need to figure out what may be causing the level to be so high. I’m an otherwise healthy 19 year old who excercises three days a week with a normal BMI.

  13. Hello, I have been suffering with what I know as adrenal fatigue for a while now. I thought it was caused by almost losing a child two years ago and consistent stressed since then. Upon reading your article it’s sounds like it may be PTSD. I have done blood urine and saliva testing. My saliva testing is the most changed. My saliva cortisol levels are almost nonexistent. They are less than one, my DHEA levels in my saliva are over 1000. My blood levels read it somewhat normal and urine was normal. I suffer from extreme fatigue, extremely heavy periods that are prolonged up to 21 days. I also am sensitive to too much noise, too much movement around me, I get upset easily, and I feel very limited. Our daughter who is 15 months old at the time almost passed away two years ago. The doctors gave her minutes to hours so I held her sitting in a chair 24 hours a day for 23 straight days. I did not eat and I did not drink because I did not want to have to use the restroom and miss a moment she passed. God did a miracle and she is 100% healed. She’s running around and perfect. I have lived in fear since then. She had spinal meningitis, RSV and MRSA inside of her body. The MRSA was the thing that was the most dangerous. She became septic, her organs failed and we watched her lose the ability to speak, eat and function. She cried in pain every minute of that 23 days regardless of how much pain medication she got. She underwent multiple surgeries and required six weeks of treatment through IV afterward. The doctors cannot tell us how she got it. I live in fear of it happening again.

    • Hi Lisa,

      Yes, it does sound like PTSD may be contributing to your current set of symptoms. I would discuss this with your current physician and perhaps seek out an official diagnosis.

  14. Dr Childs ,
    I was diagnosed with PCOS 18 months ago in the age of 32 years old. I went to see a doctor because my menstrual cycles became irregular. The doctor diagnosed me with PCOS because of my elevated LH/ FSH ratio. My LH was 14 and FSH 7.9. My progesterone, estrogen, testosterone and DHEA were not checked at this time. I have very mild hirsutism, and I used to have some acne in the past. I don’t have any other symptoms of PCOS , no cyst on the ovaries, no insulin resistant, no cholesterol, no weight problem. I had a period every single month until I was 32 years old. After I was diagnosed with PCOS, I went to a herbal store, and I was told I had PCOS because my estrogen was high, and progesterone law ( my estrogen was never checked) . They told me that I need to reduce estrogen level. I took oriental herbs that were supposed to reduce my estradiol level about 75%. The supplement that I took worked as aromatoze reducer, and estrogen blocker, and it was to supposed to compete with estrogen for estrogen receptor sites. I took it for 6 months in very high doses. I also took progesterone cream in high doses 3 week in a month. Few months after I started taking this supplements, my periods completely stopped , but I did have egg white cervical mucus ( ovulation kind) every single day for over half a year. I also noticed that after I started taking this supplements my periods became less painful and eventually they stopped. I repeated the blood tests and my LH level was over 70 , and my FSH level was almost 58. I was told that I was in the menopause in the age of 33 years old. I stopped taking supplements, and my periods resumed. They were regular for few months, and than became irregular again. I rechecked my blood work and my LH was 14, FSH 21( it was better, but still postmenopausal), my DHEA, morning, and midnight cortisol were high. Estradiol was too low. All other hormones TSH, T2, T3 ,and testosterone were all fine. Dr Childs , is there a chance that the supplements I took created some kind of hormonal imbalance that is hard for my body to fix? I want to know if there is even the smallest chance that I don’t have premature menopause, but some kind of hormonal imbalance? My acupuncturist said that the herbs that I took are very powerful, and they could create this imbalance. On the other hand , my primary doctor said that no supplement could cause it. I stopped taking this supplements months ago.

  15. Dear Dr. Child’s, my 17 year old daughter has a dhea level of 623. Three months ago it was 505. In the last five years she has gained 100lbs, lost 2/3 of her hair, had to start shaving her face and was diagnosed with PCOS. Her testosterone level is double the normal. Do you have any suggestions as to how to treat this?
    Thank you

  16. What would cause a women to have high Dhea levels but low testosterone and estrogen levels? I currently have all the symptoms of low testosterone. I do take bio identical estrogen and progesterone. Just curious why my dhea is not making testosterone like you think it would.

  17. I have recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. My ths level were 30. (After 31/2 weeks of treatment on levoxyl 50mcg) My last blood results reveal: ths: 4.86 t4 total: 9.2. Ft3: 2.9 ft4: 1.65 my thyroid peroxidase is >900 and a biopsy in my nodule showed chronic inflammation. So hashimotos.
    I am miserable. I have no energy and I can’t function. I have been to a NP and my cortisol AMis 17.5 and my DHEA-sulfate is 288.6 my ferritin is 301 my d is 26.8 my b12 is 373.
    I have experience loss that hit me hard and caused overnight menopause. I have had weight gain. I absolutely having a rough time functioning. Im not sure what direction to take. Do I have adrenal fatigue? What is the best thyroid med? Best supplements? Questions to ask? I’m seeing a NP and will see a endocrinologist 10/23. I have access to xymogen supplements…not sure which are best or what direction to go. I’m on a gluten free, dairy free, soy free, sugar free diet to address inflammation. I just need to find my energy and ability to handle stress.

  18. Hi!

    I was diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst about 6 years ago, but did not have it removed at the time. Come to find out, just a few months back the cyst was still there and causing a lot of issues for me. The doctor said that I had PCOS sand that my DHEA-S levels were at 638, almost double what they should have been, but everything else was normal. We ended up doing surgery to removed the cyst, which was actually attached to the Fallopian tube and not the ovary, but I have not had my DHEA-S checked since before it. Do you think that this is something I need to be concerned about and have checked again or should the removal of the cyst have helped it? Thanks!

  19. hello,

    thank you Dr. Childs for your helpful website. My blood levels showed elevated DHEA-s and I was wondering if this could be the result from Breastfeeding too long and too much? My estrogen was also low. I have experienced odd weight gain the last year or so mostly around my middle. I also seems to have more acne and hair loss then I normally have?

    breastfeeding raises prolactin levels which you listed as a cause of DHEA-s could this all go away if I stop breastfeeding?

  20. I just got Labs done, my DHEA levels are 2583.0 I am trying to learn what this means. I like the way you talk about it. The stresses of my life are over but now my health is not so good. I am going to work hard on this. Trying to understand is what I need right now. Thank you very much for your information!!!!!!!

  21. Wow thank you for writing this! I have hashimotos for about 10 years now and my DHEA is in the high 300’s I’m 32. I have recently been trying to conceive and having challenges, I dont have pcos or prediabetis..I’m pretty healthy and am a nutritionist…all of my other hormones are in rage and they are probably going to put me on a steroid to lower the DHEA and improve my tpo antibodies (in the 500 range). My body temp is usually pretty low and I’ve done 23 and me and genetic gene have a sluggish system when it comes to getting rid of horomones and catchcolameines…Do you know of any tests I could do to pin point the root cause? Thank you for your time!

  22. Hi,

    I have high DHEA (likely from stress and PTSD), my MD wants to put me on some testosterone, however when I have previously taken DHEA it made me very aggressive. Will testosterone do the same since DHEA is a precursor to testosterone or not necessarily so?

  23. Hi Dr. Child’s,

    Thank you for writing this article! I’ve been looking for information about increased DHEA since I was found to have elevated levels three years ago. This article by far has provided the most information. After having a negative adrenal ultrasound performed my doctor was uncertain what to do, suggesting an MRI and that I see an endocrinologist. Being in college at the time I did not have the finances to do so. Now out of school with a career I was considering reopening my health concerns. The symptoms I’ve noticed have been hair thinning, fatigue, and hirsutism which I have just dealt with the last few years. I experience anxiety and have had a hx of depression. I’m assuming based on your article my increased stress may be the cause of my increased DHEA. Would you recommend seeing an endocrinologist? If I try Ashwagandha how long should I expect to see results?

    Thank you!
    Hannah

  24. Hi!
    I’m experiencing hair loss, sudden onset for 6 weeks. Prior to that I had no issues. I think I induced the hair loss by taking dhea 75 mg/day for 5 weeks. My goal was to try and improve my AMH. I stopped taking the supplement due to the dramatic thinning of my scalp hair. My DHEAS was tested as 302 on a 260 high range scale. My question is this, it’s been 6 weeks since I stopped taking dhea … how long will it take for my dheas levels to drop to normal range again? Like amount per day or week or month – the rate dheas declines naturally in body without supplements? I really screwed up and miss my hair. Dermatologists say they don’t think my follicles are dead as a result of it but to use women’s rogaine and expect it to take a year for hair to regrow? I’d like it to stop falling out! Patiently awaiting your response…

  25. Great information. I am a 48 year old male and have just had my salivary cortisol and Dheas tested. The results are as follows; 6am-14nmol/l 12pm-4nmol/l 6pm-<3nmol/l and 10pm-<3nmol/l. My DHEAS was 22.8nmol/l (range 0.7-9.4).
    I am having trouble trying to interpret the results as the clinic didn’t give me a lower reference level for cortisol. Would you say my cortisol is low and my Dheas high? I would like to start taking supplements that will improve my hormone balance and I am not sure which ones on your website would suite. Cheers

  26. Extensive Female Blood test revealed high DHEA-S at 320. No symptoms but other results show I do need mild hormone therapy and I had excellent immediate results with a 1/4 dose of Bio identical hormone cream. All my little symptoms of low hormone disappeared overnight. Awesome.
    I THINK the high DHEA-S level was a temporary condition because I got a mouthful of my sweethearts Testin off his shoulder during physical contact (y e a h, that’s how). I ended up in the ER thinking it was an allergy (it was, but not food) and saw my doctor four days later and he foo-foo to the situation and only wanted to handle the irregular rapid (for me) heart beat. Which went back to a cool 55-62 on about day 17 of the overdose of Testerone, just like my Sweeties doctor told him it would probably do.
    How serious IS a level of 320? It it possibly elevated due to accidental overdose of topical Testerone taken orally? Blood test was taken 19 days after Testin ingestion; when should I take another blood test? I have excellent insurance if you can help me. My GP was so upset I paid for my own blood test, he has requested I get another practioner (I am) plus getting a nutritionist and heading straight for my lady doctor that has known me since she was 11 yrs old. Thank you for such an excellent blog!!

    • Hi Ruj,

      I usually find that there are other ways to reduce DHEA but it may be worth considering if you’ve exhausted all other options!

  27. Hello Dr,
    I have had my blood work done and my dhea-s levels are 1437. I am a 33 year old female dealing with massive hair loss, bad acne and Hirsutism along with anxiety and depression. I’ve tried everything to lower my stress which I think I have done I have tried every supplement. Nothing has worked and seems to get be getting worse and my doctor just want to put me back on BC pills. What do you think can be the problem or do you have and ideas of something else I can try.
    Thank you for your time.

  28. Hi Dr. Childs,
    Thank you – It’s wonderful how many people you are helping via your blog.
    I am 53 and have struggled with weight gain despite eating a very healthy, sugar and refined carb free diet for years. A couple years ago, in addition to the stubborn weight loss issue, I started losing an above normal amount of hair and developed awful acne and redness on my nose and either side of my nose. My doctor tested my hormone and thyroid levels and my DHEAs came back high (normal range 41.2-243.7 ug/dL) at 270.3 (this was March of 2016). She sent me to an endocrinologist, and I finally got in to see her in Oct. 2016. At that time, my DHEAs was 351.4 ug/dl. She prescribed an ultrasound, which came back, “unremarkable.” I just had my blood drawn for my annual physical over a year after, and though still high, it’s come down some, to 340 ug/dl. I have been taking Biotin, Evening Primrose Oil and Black Currant Seed Oil for about 6 months, which has dramatically improved my skin and hair loss – both about 90% better. I never did get an answer to the question of “why” my levels were elevated to begin with, but I’ll take the amount of time that’s passed, and the fact the levels are coming down, as a good sign? I do have a lot of stress in my life – I lost my father, my aunt, and am struggling in a difficult marriage.
    Thank you in advance for your response, Dr. Childs.

  29. Dr Childs

    My labs have shown high dhea levels for 3 years. 477, 419, now 398. Glad it’s trending down.
    I don’t have a uterus or ovaries any longer – had a total hysterectomy 8 years ago. My nurse practitioner doesn’t know why mg dhea-s levels are chronically elevated so I wonder if you may speculate that it could be the type of compounded estrogen/progesterone bioidentical Im taking? My other levels are all normal!

    The only thing I can see in correlation is lethargy, mild depression, and weight gain.
    I don’t have pcos (no uterus) or ptsd.

    Any thoughts?

  30. Great information. I have DHEA-S levels of 396. I’m 30 years of age. I’m considering progesterone therapy. I didn’t know about the DHEA-S connection with androgens. Does this mean my DHEA is converting back into DHEA-S? Is this similar to excess estrogen? Thanks.

  31. Hi Dr. Child’s. I have an 18 yo daughter who just had a DHEAS test done and the results were supposed to be 650 ng/ml-3680 ng/ml. Hers were 3890. Her progesterone level was 0.22 ng/ml. Everything else is normal. She has excessive weight gain and some facial hair. I have an older daughter with PCOS but this one was tested previously and we were told that she didn’t have it. So how can she have it now?? Or is this something else?? Adrenal neoplasm? Tumor?? I’m really baffled.

  32. Hello. I am currently active duty military and a part of that, obviously, is physical fitness. For the past year or so, I have completely changed my lifestyle by eating healthier and exercising 5 days a week and sometimes twice a day. After a while I started noticing that I was not getting the results that I should be for my efforts in trying to lose weight. This led me to get blood work done to try and figure out why this was happening. Come to find out, my DHEA level is at 720. I have no abnormalities in my menstrual cycle and minor excess facial hair (mostly on my chin). Other than the excessive weight in my mid section that I can’t seem to get rid of, I really don’t have any other symptoms. I am an active 24 year old and lead a very healthy lifestyle and can’t seem to understand what may be wrong. Your input it very appreciated. Thank you!

  33. Hello Dr. Childs,

    I have read and re-read your article to see if I could get more clarification on what has been going on with my body over the last three to fours. I have been convinced that something must be wrong with my pituitary glad.

    DHEA- S: 383 (Normal Range 45 – 270 ug/dl) Overtime I get tested it keeps increasing.

    Iron Panel and Ferritin – Extremely Low

    T3 Free – Sub Optimal 2.5 pg/ml

    Estradiol: .05 (Normal Range 1.3 – 3.3 pg/ml)

    Progesterone: 70 (Normal Range 75 – 270 pg/ml)

    Saliva Cortisol was checked 4x in a day and was very high from morning to night.

    DHEA-S was checked through a saliva kit and interesting enough it showed the opposite of that the blood results showed. My levels very low at 4.5 (NR 2 – 23 ng/ml)

    Since Dec/Jan I have started taking a lot of supplements but I am not feeling better.

    Do you have any suggestions of additional test that could be ran to see what is going on with me?

  34. Dear Dr. Childs –

    My daugther is 29 years old and has PCOS and high levels of DHEA S. She is seeing an endocrinologist and is on medication to lower the levels, but it does not seem to be helping. Would she be a good candidate for your diet and supplements?

  35. Finally after 3 years I’d high dheas my levels tested in December show them with him range again. My hair? Still awful and thinning testosterone level well in normal range too. My question is should hair hair improve any? Has anyone lowered dheas and showed improvement in hair Ect and if so how long before you started seeing improvement and what was the improvement? Thanks in advance

  36. Hello Dr.Westin Childs,

    I am 22 years old and was diagnosed at 15 years old when cysts were found in my ovaries. For me, PCOS causes syptoms like fatigue, trouble losing weight,excessive facial hair, irregular periods (heavy, painful, and missed periods) and infertitly. I know, some, may have their jaw open while reading infertitly at 22, but I have a story to my infertitly with PCOS. Infertitly is ,espically,important to me because it has been 8 years,since I was sexual active, I have been trying to conceive since I was 14 years old when was “in love” in middle school,we were consistently sexual active using no protection for 3 whole years. Come 1 year later, I was 15 and I went to a Gynecologist after a preganacy scare. I tested postive on my home pregnancy test but I miscarried, experiencing larger than quarter like blood clots. I was determined to get pregnant, I was given a ultrasound and cysts were found. I was 15 years being diagnosed with PCOS. Two years later, me and the person I was “in love” with parted. I did not make an effort,like receiving medical treatment for infertitliy, to concieve the whole 3 years. So I was, then, 17 years old and didnt have a child but I always ignored the fact I had PCOS. I thought it was because we were both young but that year he had a child. This made me think it was all me, considering the symptoms. Fast forward two years, I was 19 years old and met the love of my life, my now fiance. He is 26 years old with no kids and we both want kids. We have been trying for 4 years now, with one pregnancy scare as well but longer than my time before. We are consistently using no protection and are trying to concieve. It being a total of 7 years using unproductive sex with two partners,one for 3 years, one for 4 years and still trying with one, I am becoming scared. I went to the OB/GYN 2 weeks ago and was referred to be evaluated by an endocrinologist because I showed my DHEAS is elevated. My current hormone level results as of 02/37/2018 showed as the following:
    -DHEAS (ug/dl) was 688! Yes, 688. with reference range 35-430
    -Prolactin Lvl (ng/mL) was 13.1
    -FSH (mlU/mL) was 5.7
    -TSH (uIU/mL) was 1.330 with reference range 0.360-3.740
    -Estrogen Tot (pg/mL) was 116
    -Testosterone Tot (ng/dL) was 28.4 with reference range 10.0-55.0
    -Testosterone Free (pg/mL) was 1.3 with reference range 0.0-4.2
    -Anti-Mullerian Hormone AssessR (ng/mL) was 4.60

    What options am I looking at, as far conceiving? I am 5 feet 2 inches and weigh about 190. My hormoes are so off. It makes me feel depressed at times because I do not know what is wrong with me.

  37. Hi Dr. Childs,

    So my DHEA-sulfate is very high. Its 485 with a reference range of 18-391. I also have high ferritin of 208 with a reference range of 10-154, as well as high ALT which is 42 with a reference range of 6-29. I have always struggled with weight, but with proper diet and exercise I lose it at an average of 2 lbs/week, and I am currently at a BMI considered to be overweight.

    Anatomically my reproductive system is normal with no history of cysts. All other hormones are WNL, as well as other lab work. However, at 25 I have had 2 periods in my life, both so light I hardly needed a pad, and my hairline is beginning to recede. I have very slight hirsutism with some hair above my lip and under my chin and about 5 sparse dark hairs on my chest. Over the past 6 months, I have been having the weirdest anxiety attacks, where cognitively I have no anxiety, my mind is clear as day. However during these “attacks” physically my pulse is bounding and can be seen perfectly at my jugular notch, and if I sit you can see my abdomen pulsing as well. Its as if my body is in fight or flight for no reason (happens at all times of day/night)

    After seeing several OBGYN and primary doctors they don’t believe it to be PCOS because my other hormones are totally normal and I have no history of ovarian cysts. My concern now is possibly something going on with my adrenal gland. What is your opinion of that idea? or overall?

  38. Hi Dr. Childs,

    I have a history of atypical PCOS, low cholesterol, and gluten sensitivity. Since going gluten-free and using topical proegesterone cream, my cycle has been restored to normal, and my acne and stray facial hairs have cleared up.
    Over the next 10 years, I put on some weight and was eating a lot of sweet chocolate. I was told I was pre-diabetic and had a BMI of 26.3. I did not tolerate Metformin which I tried for a year, and I have since adopted a ketogenic diet. I lost 15 pounds intitailly, but have regained 5 — in the waist — this winter.

    My latest labs (Dec 2017) show my serum testosterone at 213 ng/dL, and my plain DHEA at 108. (Before losing the weight, my labs in April showed testosterone at 136 with calculated free testosterone at 1.31. DHEA-S was 524, and I had been supplementing with it at the time. ILGF-1 was also elevated at 270.)

    I have been experiencing more fatigue than usual the last few months, and have noticed that my waist is collecting fat. I am 49. I have been taking T3 and T4 for years, and get my thyroid checked regularly. For having such high testosterone (213) I am surprised that the only symptom besides the fatigue and abdominal fat, is oily skin. My hair thinned out some years ago, but looks pretty good, and I am not having acne or having to pluck hairs like before. Do you have any idea why I seem to be tolerating androgens so well?

    Oh, I also have a history of PTSD and anxiety/depression. I have not felt bothered in recent months. With the weight gain, my anxiety disappeared.

  39. Hi,

    I recently had my DHEA-S levels checked and it came back 812.5 with a normal range of 53.8-334.6. I have been diagnosed with PCOS. I have had infertility issues and had to turn to IVF. Is there any further treatment that should be concerned? My PCP has recommended metformin as an option for treatment of the PCOS would this also help my high DHEA-S level?

    Thank you!

    Melissa

  40. Help. I have lost 70% of my hair with pronounced male “M” pattern baldness and have gained 15 pounds – in one year! – despite a disciplined diet and an aggressive exercise regime. Have seen 2 MD’s, a GYN – thinking I have too much testosterone – a dermatologist, a naturopath, and last week paid $3500 to Cleveland Clinic to learn “my physiology results are in the 25-year-old zone”. I’m 58. Cue the applause except I was there for a referral to a thyroid specialist/clinic. Was told AGAIN, my blood tests are all normal and I should accept aging. “Thinning hair and gaining weight are normal”. Except I’ve been aging all my life and took beautiful hair for granted. And I’ve been disciplined and fit all my life and when I noticed the weight gain, doubled down on diet and a very aggressive workout regime with 0 measurable benefits. My breasts, waist, and thighs continue to grow at astonishing speed. This is not aging, my breasts haven’t grown 3 cups sizes this year because “skin thickens with age”. My husband, who is also “old” still has his hair so my male pattern baldness can’t be attributed to aging. Am finding my decreasing energy level is being defeated by this struggle to be seen, heard and treated. Because it doesn’t appear to be life-threatening and I’m old enough to dismiss, I am routinely dismissed. The fact this condition is stealing my life – I don’t make travel plans or social plans or any plans because I feel so self-conscious – makes it as life-threatening as any disease. I’m losing the “assertive health advocate” battle and am afraid I’ll lose the war.

    • Hi Robin,

      The short answer is that conventional medicine doesn’t specialize in this type of issue, they are generally more concerned with managing chronic medical conditions and they don’t focus on quality of life issues such as this. It doesn’t really matter how many different conventional doctors you see, where you go, or which specialists you go to as they will always give you the same answer. If you want a different approach you will most likely need to seek care outside of the conventional model. Doctors specializing in anti-aging medicine may be more likely to help you compared to traditional endocrinologists/PCP’s/etc.

  41. I recently discovered that my urine DHEA-s is at 1254, with a reference range of 220 to 700. This may be the missing piece of the puzzle for me. Can you tell me if any of the following issues may be related?

    – Cystic Acne
    – Hirsutism
    – Low Voice
    – Irregular periods
    – Postpartum Depression
    – High Anxiety
    – Hypoglycemia
    – High sex drive
    – Breast fibroadenoma
    – Nausea
    – Ovulation Pain
    – Pain in the upper left side under ribs (ultrasound didn’t find anything wrong)

    My progesterone is a little low, and estrogen a little high, but thyroid levels are fine and testosterone is low. Cortisol is normal. I had horrible cystic acne as a teen and it went away after being on birth control for a few months. My skin was spotless and my weight was good through pregnancy and early postpartum, but when my cycle returned at 15 months postpartum, weight gain and acne are back with a vengeance. How much does prolactin increase DHEA-s levels? How much does PTSD impact DHEA-s?

    In your opinion, is Ashwagandha and vitamin E safe while breastfeeding? How might I keep my child from being exposed to too much DHEA during my next pregnancy?

  42. I am trying to sort through all these tests and some don’t make sense at all. I have been operating under the notion that I have severe PMDD and have for many years. I recently went to a holistic hormone doctor that has taken blood and saliva tests. Around DHEA, the blood test showed I have very high DHEA-Sulfate, but the saliva test was very low DHEA. I also have pretty low testosterone and free testosterone, and cortisol. My T3 is also low.

    I have taken sugar out of my diet for about 5 days, and caffeine is the next thing to go. With proper care, how long does it take to get these things under control?
    I am in a constant state of exhaustion and have no energy. I have also gained over 30 pounds in the last six months, I am overwhelmed and bewildered and desperately ready for a change.

  43. Hi Dr. Childs… I recently received my bloodwork results and my DHEA-S is a 700+. I’ve been on HRT for about 2 years now (100mg progesterone and 2mg testosterone daily)and for once all of my levels are good except for the DHEA has jumped unexpectedly. I’ve gained 20 lbs in the past 8 months and my menses is terrible. I asked my Dr why the dhea would be so high and he said its most likely stress. What can I do to lower my DHEA levels… these numbers are scaring me. Any help would be appreciated! Thank you.

  44. I am s/p a TBI in 2014, which left me with post-concussion syndrome. As a result of my accident/injury, I also have PTSD, and have been under chronic stress since my accident (a divorce, lost my job d/t my cognitive deficits). I just recently and, rather suddenly, lost most of the hair at my temples bilaterally. My DHEA is 261. The endocrinologist is going to start me on Aldactone to prevent further hair loss which I am extremely anxious about. This article was so helpful – thank you so much!

  45. I was diagnosed with 3 beta-hsd and take .25mgs of dex. I’ve been trying to get pregnant for three years. It’s there any research showing that this is a possibility? Anything showing ivf success? Thanks!

  46. Hey, so I’ve been experiencing intense anxiety, heart palpitations and high heart rate since April. I then tested my blood and my cholesterol and DHEA levels are high. I decided to eat healthier and include salmon and avocados into my diet. I just got my test again and my dhea is now 19.5 ng/ ml when it was 18.8 Ng/ ML. so now it’s even higher. My thyroid and adrenal gland were checked and my ovaries. I have no visible tumors and my blood tests were normal. including cortisol levels, testosterone, and estrogen. Do you have any idea what’s going on? I’m 27 . is this some kind of spike? I’ve never had issues with this and this all started since april.

  47. Hi,

    My DHEA-S has always been high (in the 500s-600s). I have been told I may not have PCOS due to lack of cysts on my ovaries during a transvaginal scan in 2015.I experience the following:

    Excessive weight gain (gained 55 lbs in less than 6 months back in 2008 and have mostly kept it on since then)

    Irregular periods… I basically do not get them at all. Can’t remember when the last time I actually had one. Weird enough, I spot regularly every single day. Sometimes the bleeding is slightly heavier than most days. Sometimes the liner is completely blood-less until I wipe and I can see fresh blood. Sometimes the blood is old too. Very confusing.

    I have hirsutism, affecting my face and body. I have acne issues all over my face and chest. I have experienced breast size reduction. I am very stressed out most of the time and my skin is very oily. I bloat easily. I am borderline diabetic. I do not eat healthy but I cannot help my sugary cravings at times.

    I also have high testosterone levels. My cholesterol values seem to be in range most of the time.

    My endocrinologist is retired now and I am in the middle of finding a new one. He told me once I have hypo-adrenolism and told me to take Prednisone daily. I was compliant until didn’t notice much difference and stopped. I am confused!

  48. Hello Dr. Childs,
    My 21-year-old daughter was recently tested for levels of DHEA-S04. Her level came back extremely elevated at 636 mcg/ul. She’s been overweight since age 17 despite regular gym exercise and her period is irregular. I’ve also noticed a significant hair loss and hirsutism. She is currently in nursing school and will be done by next year. I know she is under a lot of stress with balancing school and work which I believed was the reason for her weight gain. I also suspected hypothyroidism, but her THS, t3, t4 were all normal. After I came across your website, I am coming to this conclusion that she has PCOS, but could also be adrenal hyperplasia. Should my daughter be seen by an endocrinologist or OB-Gyn? Should I recommend she take your ashwagandha supplements? Your input is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!

    Pauline

    • Hi Pauline,

      Ashwagandha may help alleviate some of the stress and may help with the DHEA but probably won’t lead to a significant amount of weight loss. It would be a reasonable thing to try, though!

  49. Hi Doc,
    My DHEA-sulfate is relatively high. Its 380 with a reference range of 45-270. Prolactin 36.32 with a reference of 5-35mg/ml. I have facial hair, the period is regular(28 days cycle) and I am not struggling with weight loss.

    My concern is actually the facial hair, my Gynecologist feels I am not poly-cystic and he is a bit confused. Wha/t could be the problem pls

    Kindly respond to me, please.

    Thanks!

  50. Hi, Dr. Childs
    I’m writing to you because I have a concern. I’m 42 years old, a little over 4 years ago I have a plant based diet. All my life I have had acne but now it has become a problem I took the hormone test and went out with DHEA in 389. Which supplement is the most recommended for me.
    I would appreciate your prompt response.
    Thanks!
    Jessika
    [email protected]

    • Hi Jessika,

      You’ll also want to look into free and total testosterone, but it sounds like you may benefit from something like ashwagandha.

  51. Dr. Childs,
    I looked up “urine smells like smoky sausage” and the search came up with high DHEA. Then, I came upon your site. My endocrinologist/tests are indicating hypoparathyroidism. I have struggled with a 20 in. weight gain that no dieting seems to resolve. Just wondering if I should ask my doctor about this and what possible tests. I have Fibromyalgia, but levels of fatigue have really escalated. I’m 69. Also, itching all over that is in the extreme. Any insight is appreciated.

  52. Hi there–I’m not sure if you’re still answering questions here, but I am a 25-year-old female with incredibly regular periods and no acne, but recently started experiencing incredibly abrupt and rapid hair loss. My hair growth and volume had been completely normal and thick my whole life and then one week it started falling out in much larger strands than usual, and has continued to every day since. My periods remain normal but I’ve been experiencing high anxiety and fatigue that I haven’t had to deal with in the past. I had a metabolic blood panel done two weeks ago and just got the results back–everything is normal except for a wildly high DHEA-S level of 801.1. My glucose is 71 and my thyroid is completely normal. The doctor told me that I need to rule out PCOS and then get checked for a secreting neoplasm, which made me incredibly panicked. Is a DHEA-S level of 801.1 typical in PCOS patients? Do these symptoms typically present with tumors, or is it possible they could mean something else? Not looking for diagnosis, just any sort of direction since the doctor cannot see me for some time. Thank you for your help here!

  53. Hi, For the last year I have been treated for low cortizol (Flatlined) plus was also given DHEA 25mg per day A few months ago I had a crash, and have been trying to get back to where I was before the crash. Just had a saliva test which also measures DHEA. My cortisol levels have improved, but the late evening is now too high. My DHEA was >1000pg/ml (range 106-300) So have stopped taking the DHEA. What should I do?

  54. I am 44 years old and have been experiencing weight gain and black patchy facial hair on my chin and lip area. My doctor ordered some lab tests that came back high. My testosterone was 106 and my DHEA-S was 650. She ordered a CT scan for next week. I am so nervous but hoping it’s not something very serious.

  55. Hi – I have a current DHEA level of 802 (35yo female), high testosterone, PCOS since late teens, and currently trying to get pregnant. My DHEA levels have been high for years (some doctors like this, others are concerned and don’t believe me that I’ve never supplemented). I have multiple ongoing medical conditions that could lead to chronic stress that I don’t recognize because it has been this way for years. Naturopathic focuses on adrenal fatigue being the issue, other physicians are not concerned with my adrenals as my cortisol levels are consistently normal. I have never struggled with weight until gaining 30lbs this year with no known cause (thyroid is normal, other hormones are same as they have been, I eat very healthy – no refined sugar, careful sources of meat and vegetables, paleo-Mediterranean no dairy no gluten; exercise more than in the past so weight gain is completely befuddling – fat mass gain). Have had hirsutism for years that is currently worse than other periods but not worse than it’s ever been. I’m really not sure how to decrease this after reading your article as I can’t pinpoint the cause. Endocrinologist recently started me on metformin and inositol for PCOS/help with conception as prothrombin factor II keeps me away from birth control or supplemental progesterone. Any thoughts? Thank you!

  56. Hi Dr.Childs
    Four years ago I experienced at age 52 palpitations anxiety panic attacks. After many heart test that were negative My doctor diagnose perimenopause I was prescribed progesterone and after some time I felt normal again. Now 4 years later, the same thing except worst, my anxiety is horrible panic attacks when left alone, uncontrollable crying spells palpitations which at times elevated Blood test again were normal, hormone level normal but DHEA was 289.5. I was taken bio-hormones but no changes so currently not taken them I have stress but nothing unusual. This is going on 3 weeks and no relief. I’m a very independent woman so this is not like me to feel I need a “babysitter” and have so much anxiety. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  57. Dr. Childs,
    Could you explain the MOA of how you could have high SBGH but also have high levels of androgen metabolites and DHEA in urine testing? My understanding was that with high SBGH- testosterone and estrogen are bound so there is less “free” testosterone available. If this is the case- then how can there also be high levels of DHEA-S and androgen metabolites in urine? (DX of ovarian failure – on bio-identical HRT)

    • Hi Lee,

      It’s certainly possible that you are providing your body with more androgens than SHBG can “bind” up. The fact that your androgens are high AND your SHBG is high, indicates that you have an issue with multiple hormones.

  58. Hi. I just turned 40 and came out with high DHEA Sulfate of 344. I have searched in Google and I’m scared of adrenal tumors or cancer. I have normal testosterone and no symptoms of high DHEA. Thanks

  59. Dr,
    Cushing’s syndrome really needs to be added to this list. My first sign was high DHEA. I know Drs think it’s rare enough to leave out at times, but the fact is it’s only rarely tested for properly and often overlooked. I think in the next 20years there will be an increase in diagnosed cases. It just isn’t as rare as AACE claim it is ave their protocols for testing are poor. Please add it to your list so people coming here looking for why they might have high DHEA have all the reasons, not just a partial list.

    Lauren

    • Hi Lauren,

      You are right that it can potentially cause a high DHEA but it is rarely missed by doctors. The list here only includes those things which are frequently missed by doctors and which are most common.

  60. Hi, thank you for the info! This explains a lot. I am 59, menopausal, and overweight despite a very clean, organic, plant-based diet. (I’ve tried low-carb, keto, etc. – nothing worked.) I had severe insomnia for 20 years, which caused weight gain. I finally resolved the insomnia, but then had a highly traumatic experience and now have some anxiety and insomnia a few nights out of the week. Definitely PTSD. My blood test shows DHEA is high – 224.9. Cortisol is 10.7, free testosterone 5.6. Estrogen is fine, but progesterone is on the low end of normal – .1 The only other symptom I have is vaginal dryness. I don’t want to take estrogen, but am considering a progesterone vaginal cream, to avoid buildup of progesterone in fatty tissues (which is controversial). The problem is that the cream also contains DHEA, which, they say, convert to estriol without the dangerous side effects that estrogen creams have. So here is my question: Since my DHEA is already high, would the vaginal cream exacerbate it? OR, would the good benefits of better sleep from the progesterone and, as a result, stress reduction, outweigh any potential negative effects? I really don’t want to take transdermal progesterone cream and I haven’t found a vaginal cream with bio-identical progesterone only. Thanks!

  61. I am 51 and recently had my thyroid and dhea checked. Thyroid levels all in normal range but DHEA is 441. When I had it checked six months ago it was 91.
    I am under a lot of stress, gaining weight, and peri-menopausal. Menstrual cycle just started being irregular. I have been taking an adrenal suppliment for fatigue but it is mostly made up of B vitamins. No oily skin, acne, or excessive hair growth. Have been suffering with mood swings and anxiety.

  62. I suffer from high DHEA levels 650, I tested 4 years ago at 383, my cortisol is never increased. I have been commonly thought to have hypothyroidism, but blood work comes back normal, which then turns into a depression prescription – which then spirals out of control – I don’t handle anti-depressants well. I show no signs of increased testosterone, and was told that my progesterone was duking it out with my estrogen, just to have an endocrinologist tell me it was normal. When my periods went to irregular 2 years ago, I mentioned it to an OB/GYN to have them ignore it. Last year, I had a male doctor order a DHEA test, only to get a cortisol response then tell me that I didn’t understand the test results, that an 8.9 result was DHEA. I was then urged to really advocate for my health care, so I pushed even more, to get a result of 650 today…the original doc that brought the high levels to my attention, ruled tumors out, but said that a 500-600 meant a tumor for sure. Freaking out, but still thinking something is missing…

  63. Hi Westin. I went to endocrinologist with a suspicion of hirsutism. This has always been a problem since puberty but never checked until now when i noticed that black hair started to grow on my chin and the fact i cannot lose weight which is accumulating around my belly mostly. I got DHEA levels of 470 when the limit is around 320 per our scale, normal testosterone, an incipient resistance to insulin and i still have to get cortisol results.Several years ago i was indicated that i am suffering from generalized anxiety. Might be stress & anxiety the actual reason for my current results? Thank you.

  64. Do you have an article concerning LOW DHEA? I know DHEA typically declines with age, however, I am seeking information on DHEA when it is significantly below the reference range.

  65. Hi dr child’s,

    So I had previously had a dhea level of 440, and then it had dropped down to 400 and then after really pushing and pushing for several months w diet, excercze and heavy supplementation with omega, symplex f, spearmint, asheaghanda, Berberine, milk thistle it only dropped to 397. My symptoms are weight loss resistance with most of my weight being in my stomach, hair loss, facial hair and oily hair. What would you recommend I do now to lower it? And once I get my dhea in an optimal range would my symptoms go away?

    I can’t really pin point what it is that is causing the increase, I have cut out toxic products, changed my diet, tried to supplement for stress, lead an active and healthy lifestyle, so I’m not sure what could be causing my high dhea.

    Thank you!

  66. Westin, I doubt you’ll have time to answer this but, in case you do :

    Have you seen nonclassic CAH impact mental health ? Meaning, anxiety based issues, like GAD or OCD’ish tendencies ?

    Do you know that elevated (meaning high normal and/or off-the-chart high) DHT can cause significant anxiety ? On one hand, I seem to recall DHT to increase GABA-A receptor expression, so because of this it should be a very calming signal. However, It can also facilitate adrenaline release. As you know, DHT affects myriad neuroendocrine signals.

    At the end of the day, I’m trying to find out whether elevated DHT can be a cause of anxiety ? Tough question.

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