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DHEA and IVF: Should you take DHEA?

18th December 2015 in Advice

Did you know that DHEA is one of the most searched-for terms on our website? But what is this? And why is it linked to IVF?

DHEA, or Dehydroepiandrosterone, is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the adrenal glands, which is converted into androgens and estrogens.

There have been various studies that claim to show that taking DHEA supplements before beginning an IVF cycle can help improve egg quality in women who have poor ovarian reserve – not many good quality eggs left. 

However, these studies were small-scale and the limited evidence does not support the widespread, routine use of DHEA supplementation in women with poor ovarian reserve. 

More research is needed - large-scale, considered studies that show beyond any doubt that DHEA actually improves ovarian reserve. Until then, DHEA should be considered as an experimental approach to treating poor ovarian reserve in women undergoing IVF.

If you do want to take any kind of supplements, it’s vital to do so under the right advice. Optimal dose and length of supplementation need to be determined if you choose to take DHEA in the hope of improving IVF outcome, and it’s important to advise our team if you’ve been taking any kind of supplements prior to the start of your cycle. 

At Manchester Fertility, we only ever recommend treatments and techniques that have been scientifically proven. Your ovarian reserve is something we check as part of your initial screening tests when you come for treatment. The results of your tests help us to create a bespoke treatment plan for you, designed to maximise your chances of success. We’ll be able to tell you if you have poor ovarian reserve, and how well you’re likely to respond to the ovarian stimulation needed for IVF. 

If you have any questions about our recommendations, speak to your fertility doctor at your initial consultation. You can also read more about our thoughts on DHEA and IVF here.

Last updated: 18th December 2015