Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is also known as androstenolone. It is used for multiple conditions, but its efficacy in most of these has not been proved.
Some of the conditions where it is used are mentioned below:
Postmenopausal symptoms in women with pain during sex
Adrenal insufficiency, where the adrenal gland does not produce enough hormones
To improve aging skin
It is also sold as a nutritional supplement. Its use in athletes is banned by the World Anti-doping Agency.
Dehydroepiandrosterone is contraindicated in with the following conditions:
Breast, ovarian, uterine or prostate cancer
Undiagnosed abnormal vaginal bleeding in women or conditions like uterine fibroid, polycystic ovarian syndrome or endometriosis
Pregnancy / Lactation / Women before menopause / Children
Liver disease or heart disease
The dose varies according to the condition.
The usual recommended oral dose for dehydroepiandrosterone is 50 to 75 mg/day. Higher doses of 50 mg three times a day have been used for adrenal insufficiency.
Intravaginally: One insert containing 6.5 mg DHEA / insert is introduced intravaginally at bed time.
Cream or gel for local application: DHEA is used as a 1% cream on the face and hands for aging twice a day.
It should be taken for a duration as advised by a physician.
Do not use higher than recommended doses or for prolonged durations.
Caution is advised if the patient has any mental disorder since it could worsen such a condition.
Use carefully if the patients have diabetes, thyroid or kidney disorder.
It is advisable to test for blood DHEA levels before supplementation.
Genitourinary system: Irregular periods, abnormal menstruation, increased vaginal discharge and abnormal Paps smear test with the vaginal formulation
Heart and Blood Vessels: Changes in blood pressure, reduced HDL cholesterol levels
Skin and Hair: Acne, hirsutism (hair growth on face and other parts of the body), hair loss
Nervous system: Headache, restlessness, aggressiveness, irritability, emotional changes
Others: Dizziness, fatigue, weight gain, stomach upset, decreased breast size, deepened voice
Avoid alcohol consumption while using this drug
Avoid use with corticosteroids, estrogens or testosterone
Avoid intake of soy or licorice while taking DHEA
Dehydroepiandrosterone should be avoided with anastrozole, exemestane, fulvestrant, letrozole or tamoxifen since DHEA may reduce the effect of these drugs.
Patients taking insulin for diabetes should not take DHEA since insulin can reduce the effectiveness of DHEA.
DHEA can prevent the breakdown of several drugs by the liver including lovastatin and fexofenadine and increase their blood levels. It may also increase the blood levels of triazolam.
Do not use DHEA with drugs used for the treatment of depression and calcium channel blockers since the combination can result in side effects.
DHEA should be avoided in patients taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs due to increased chances of bleeding.
DHEA should be avoided with tuberculosis vaccine since DHEA could reduce the efficacy of the vaccine Use with caution in patients taking blood pressure or diabetes medication.
Licorice increases the level of dehydroepiandrosterone which may increase the side effects.
It should be stored at room temperature below 30°C unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer.
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