7 Important Things You Need To Know Before Taking The DHEAS Test 

DHEA-S, or Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate, is a hormone found in both males and females. Sometimes doctors may prescribe the DHEAS test, which measures the amount of DHEA-S in the patient’s blood.

You may have been prescribed such a test by your doctor. Read on to know the seven important things before taking it.

1. What is DHEA-S?

Hormones regulate vital bodily functions such as metabolism, the immune system, blood pressure, and response to stress. Your adrenal glands produce a lot of these hormones. The cortex and the medulla are the two components that make up an adrenal gland. They are each in charge of manufacturing different hormones. The outside of your adrenal gland is called the adrenal cortex. It creates hormones to support essential body processes and organ functions. If someone is affected by these conditions at a young age, it indicates lower levels of DHEA-S.

One essential hormone the adrenal cortex produces is Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate or DHEA-S. It is a male-type sex hormone (an androgen) that plays a crucial role in creating testosterone and estrogen. It is responsible for so-called masculine or androgenic traits. These traits include hair growth in armpits and pubic areas, oilier skin, etc. The development of male sex traits throughout puberty and reproduction in both sexes depends on DHEAS.

2. What are the symptoms of irregularity of DHEA-S levels in the blood?

Men often lack recognizable symptoms of high-level DHEA-S. In women and girls, excessive DHEAS levels might cause the following symptoms:

  • excessive growth of facial and body hair
  • voice getting deeper
  • irregular menstrual periods
  • excessive acne
  • more muscle mass
  • crown balding

Sometimes newborns have ambiguous genitalia. It means they are neither male nor female in appearance. It is also considered a symptom of irregularities in the DHEA-S levels. Young boys with high levels of DHEA-S may experience early puberty.

The following signs of adrenal gland dysfunction may be indicators of low DHEAS levels:

  • unforeseen weight loss
  • nausea and subsequent retching
  • vertigo
  • dehydration, leading to a craving for salt

Symptoms of lower levels of DHEA-S can mimic aging symptoms. Symptoms like decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and vaginal tissue thinning are often associated with aging. If someone is affected by these conditions at a young age, it indicates lower levels of DHEA-S.

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3. Can DHEA-S be measured? How?

Yes. It can be measured by a blood test when prescribed by the doctor. The blood test is referred to as the DHEAS test, which measures the level of DHEA-S in your blood.

4. When is the DHEAS test prescribed?

Most frequently, a DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) test is used to:

  • Check to see if your adrenal glands are functioning correctly.
  • Determine the presence of adrenal gland tumors
  • Identify the testicles and ovaries’ ailments.
  • To find out why boys experience early puberty.
  • Find out what causes women’s and girls’ development of masculine traits and excessive body hair growth.

In addition to other sex hormone tests, a DHEAS test is frequently performed. These include testing for estrogen in women and testosterone in men. Your doctor may prescribe this test if you have symptoms of high levels or low levels of DHEA-S.

5. How should I prepare for the test?

Many hormone tests require special preparation. But DHEA-S levels tend to remain stable in your body throughout the day. Hence, it does not require any special preparation on your part. But do notify your doctor about any medication you might be taking for diabetes or high blood pressure. Such medications tend to increase the level of DHEA-S in the blood. Also, supplements for vitamin E and fish oil can lower DHEA-S levels. In such cases, your doctor may ask you to stop taking them before the test. It would help if you did not smoke before your test, as nicotine also increases DHEA-S levels.

6. How is the test performed? Are there any risks?

A blood sample will be collected from you through venepuncture. The collected blood is then sent to the lab for further tests.

The risk of taking this test is incredibly low. The needle may sting somewhat when it enters or exits your body. Most side effects are temporary, but you might experience some mild discomfort or bruising where the needle was inserted.

If you feel any lingering discomfort, please consult your medical practitioner immediately.

7. What do my DHEAS test results mean?

Sex and age are vital in determining DHEA-S levels in the blood. The levels are high in newborns, after which it drops quickly. It again peaks during puberty to aid in developing male/female traits. After this, it slowly starts reducing.

  • High levels of DHEA-S can indicate the following –
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a common genetic disorder of the adrenal glands
  • A benign or cancerous tumor in the adrenal gland.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome in women younger than 50 affects fertility.
  • Low levels of DHEA-S can indicate the following –
  • Conditions such as Addison disease and adrenal insufficiency affect the adrenal glands’ ability to produce enough adrenal hormones,
  • Pituitary adenomas include hypopituitarism (when the pituitary gland does not produce enough pituitary hormones).

Conclusion

If you have abnormal DHEAS test results, your doctor will guide you to make the levels normal again. Age-related declines in DHEA sulfate levels are typical for both men and women. There are over-the-counter DHEA sulfate supplements that are marketed as an anti-aging treatment. However, there is no solid proof to back up these anti-aging claims.

Therefore, you must do notify your doctor about any medication you might be taking for diabetes or high blood pressure. Such medications tend to increase the level of DHEA-S in the blood. Also, supplements for vitamin E and fish oil can lower DHEA-S levels. In such cases, your doctor may ask you to stop taking them before the test. It would help if you did not smoke before your test, as nicotine also increases DHEA-S levels

The adverse effects of these supplements could even be life-threatening. Consult your doctor if you have any questions about DHEA supplements and need advice regarding tests and diagnose.