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What Are the Effects of DHEA on IVF?

Nicole Madison
Updated Feb 11, 2024
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When most people discuss the effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on in vitro fertilization (IVF), a type of assisted conception treatment, they don't usually mean the effects of this supplement on the procedure. Instead, they typically mean the effect of DHEA on the outcome of the fertility procedure or a woman's response to it. There is evidence to suggest the supplement can improve a woman's chances of producing viable eggs. In particular, this effect may be seen in aging women who might have fewer eggs left or fewer quality eggs.

DHEA is a hormone that naturally occurs in the human body. When used as a supplement, the hormone is thought to help slow the aging process and encourage better mental function. It is also said to help increase strength and performance in athletes. Some people use it to treat problems related to sexual function and to improve their sense of well-being. Though not proven as a treatment for infertility, studies of the effect of DHEA on IVF outcomes have produced encouraging evidence, and some people supplement with it in the hopes of conceiving and carrying a child to term.

Thanks to promising research on the effect of DHEA on IVF and fertility in general, many people think DHEA has a positive effect on women with diminished ovarian reserves, a condition marked by a diminished number of quality eggs. IVF is often mentioned in conjunction with the hormone, but it is really the effects of DHEA on a woman who is undergoing IVF that most people mean. As such, it may be more appropriate to consider the effects of DHEA on IVF response or success rather than on the procedure itself.

Among the possible effects of DHEA on IVF in women with diminished ovarian reserves are those such as increased egg production, improved egg quality, and fewer chromosome abnormalities. When used in conjunction with IVF, there is some evidence that the hormone may contribute to an increase in the number of fertilized eggs and higher IVF success rates. There is even some evidence that supplementation with this hormone may decrease a person's chances of miscarrying a chromosomally normal baby.

While a person can use over-the-counter DHEA supplements without a doctors approval, women are usually advised to seek a doctor's advice before getting started. This is particularly true when a woman is undergoing IVF. A doctor can provide information about any adverse effects it may cause, such as acne, and ensure that it won't interfere with the medications used during IVF.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By ddljohn — On Oct 14, 2013

@donasmrs-- There was a study done on DHEA in Isreal and the result was that DHEA improved fertility in infertile women. But I don't think that the results of the study are conclusive and it doesn't say much about how DHEA affects IVF.

My doctor did not recommend DHEA to me since I have normal hormone levels. She said that she only recommends the supplement to patients who have low adrenal hormones because DHEA increases these hormones in the body. If someone who already has normal levels takes DHEA, it can apparently lead to ovarian overgrowth which is actually very dangerous and it can prevent pregnancy.

You really need to speak to your doctor about whether DHEA is right for you. Don't take it without supervision.

By donasmrs — On Oct 14, 2013

I've been looking into supplements that can improve the quality and quantity of eggs. I've found many different supplements in my research that people claimed worked for them. Among them are royal jelly, bee propolis, DHEA and CoQ10.

I've tried bee propolis and royal jelly so far and they have not made any difference. I'm still not pregnant, my IVF did not work. Is DHEA better than these supplements? Is there any proof that it works?

By bluedolphin — On Oct 13, 2013

I think DHEA supplements were a huge help in making my IVF successful. I had been receiving hormonal therapy for a while but was not able to get pregnant due to poor ovarian reserve. My doctor recommended that I start taking DHEA daily and I did. My ovarian reserve improved greatly with DHEA and the IVF was a success. I am now fifteen weeks pregnant.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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