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How To Take Dhea For Menopause

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DHEA conversion to Estrogen? Can I get too Much?

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What Does Pregnenolone Do

If DHEA is the mother of all sex hormones, then pregnenolone may be described as the grandmother, as pregnenolone is produced first and converted into DHEA as necessary. Pregnenolone is also converted directly into progesterone so it is more progestogenic than DHEA.

Pregnenolone is mainly found in the adrenal glands and brain, but is also present in other tissues such as the liver and skin. Like DHEA, natural levels of pregnenolone peak in the late twenties to early thirties and then start to decline. By the age of 75, a person produces 60% less pregnenolone than in their thirties.

Like DHEA, pregnenolone supplements are said to have a variety of beneficial effects, including:

  • Increasing a low sex drive
  • Promoting general feelings of well-being and banishing fatigue
  • Reducing the effects of ageing
  • Improving visual and auditory perception
  • Enhancing memory, mental acuity, alertness and awareness
  • Lifting a low mood
  • Improving the quality of sleep
  • Regulating immune function
  • Reducing the adverse effects of stress
  • Reducing the risks of osteoporosis and adult-onset diabetes
  • Helping to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, pre-menstrual syndrome, menopause and stress

Since pregnenolone and DHEA work in harmony, some physicians prescribe small amounts of each together. Some claim that this minimises the anabolic and oestrogenic effects of DHEA, although little research is available to confirm this.

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Is Dhea The Next Wonder Drug For Menopause

Many of the currently menopausal women in the United States came of age during the Swinging Sixties. Spurred on by very reliable contraceptives, the sexual revolution, and womens right to have a satisfying sexual life, these women are less likely than their grandmothers to go off quietly into sexual retirement. Aging men with erectile problems have had several prescriptions drugs to enhance their sexual experience. Women have no FDA-approved drug to improve their sexual outcomes. Here at WebMD, we recently posted a news story about the use of an over-the-counter hormone called DHEA, which was said to ease menopausal symptoms and improve womens sex lives. When that same release showed up on the start page of my computer it seemed time to investigate these claims.

Lets try and answer these important questions:

  • Does DHEA improve sexual function?
  • Is over-the-counter DHEA safe?
  • What is the future for DHEA?

Does DHEA improve sexual function?

According to the just-published report from Genazzani and colleagues in Italy, it does. They state that a daily dose of a 10 mg DHEA pill worked as well as two different types of standard hormone therapy in improving sexual function and frequency of intercourse compared to women who received nonhormonal treatment.

Is over-the-counter DHEA safe?

What is the future for DHEA?

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Cholesterol Reducer  DHEA 50 mg  Cholesterol Support  3 ...

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  • Bouchard C, Labrie F, Derogatis L, Girard G, Ayotte N, Gallagher J, Cusan L, Archer DF, Portman D, Lavoie L, Beauregard A, Cote I, Martel C, Vaillancourt M, Balser J, Moyneur E VVA Prasterone Group.. Effect of intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone on the female sexual function in postmenopausal women: ERC-230 open-label study. Horm Mol Biol Clin Investig. 2016 Mar 25:181-90.
  • Labrie F, Archer D, Bouchard C, Fortier M, Cusan L, Gomez JL, Girard G, Baron M, Ayotte N, Moreau M, Dube R, Cote I, Labrie C, Lavoie L, Berger L, Gilbert L, Martel C, Balser J. Effect of intravaginal dehydroepiandrosterone on libido and sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2009 Sep-Oct 16:923-31.
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    Should You Supplement Dhea Levels During Perimenopause

    With the advent of anti-aging medicine and the increased focus on health and wellness issues, women are inundated with suggestions for supplements to add to their bodies. DHEA, because of its health promoting, anti-aging properties, is often called the fountain of youth and is highly recommended as a supplement.

    But, should you? Is it safe? Because DHEA is instrumental in metabolizing into hormones, many physicians feel it is not safe to experiment with DHEA as a supplement. In addition, because DHEA basically functions as a steroid in the body, there is the potential for negative side effects if large doses are consumed.

    If you are in perimenopause and are suffering with adrenal fatigue and are considering supplementing with DHEA, be sure and seek the advice of a trusted physician or health care provider first. While there are certainly health benefits in supplementing with DHEA, the potential risks can be harmful. While seeking to restore hormone balance during perimenopause is always a good thing, caution when introducing supplements and hormones into your body is always the wiser course of action.

    Dhea May Help Sex Symptoms After Menopause

    Low-Dose DHEA Cuts Menopause Symptoms, Improves Sex Life in Small Study

    Dec. 20, 2011 — Low-dose DHEA works as well as hormone replacement therapy to ease menopausal symptoms and to improve women’s sex lives, a small pilot study suggests.

    DHEA is a hormone widely available in the U.S. as a dietary supplement. DHEA is produced by the adrenal glands, the liver, and the testes. It’s a parent hormone that gives rise to both male and female sex hormones. The supplement is a man-made version.

    The new findings, from an Italian study of 48 women, are “proof of concept” that DHEA can help menopausal women, suggests study leader Andrea Genazzani, MD, PhD, director of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pisa, Italy.

    “Low doses of the hormone DHEA may be able to help women deal better with menopausal symptoms, as well as helping their sex life,” Genazzani says in a news release. “The work shows that DHEA has potential, especially for those women who may have problems in taking more conventional HRT.”

    Genazzani warns, however, that the study is small and that its findings must be validated in larger studies.

    In the one-year study, women who asked for HRT to treat menopausal symptoms were assigned to different treatments. Twelve women got low, 10-mg doses of DHEA once a day. Another 12 women received combination hormone therapy, while 12 others received tibolone, a synthetic hormone replacement treatment used in countries outside the U.S.

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    Keeps The Weight Away

    As we age, we tend to slack off a bit. We make excuses to exercise, and this, together with poor eating and hormonal imbalance, causes menopausal weight gain. DHEA speeds up the metabolism which burns fats faster. It also regulates blood sugar, so it is used as energy instead of becoming fat deposits. Read about 7-Keto DHEA and how it aids in losing weight in our FACT BOX below!

    Overeating And Adrenal Fatigue

    DHEA for Women The Benefits of Taking DHEA Supplements

    Overeating is a cause of adrenal fatigue and can make the condition worse, increasing the severity of menopausal symptoms. To increase your level of DHEA naturally, avoid overeating and try to maintain a body mass index of 19-25. As your metabolism slows down during menopause, overeating is likely to lead to rapid weight gain, which will worsen joint pain. Try to listen to your body, eating only when youâre hungry and putting down the knife and fork when you are full. Avoiding processed, sugary foods will also reduce your risk of adrenal fatigue.

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    What Is The Connection Between Dhea For Women And Adrenal Glands

    In addition to DHEA, adrenal glands are also responsible for secreting stress hormones and cortisol. That being said, when a woman is under chronic personal or professional pressure, adrenal glands are forced to respond by pumping out high levels of stress hormones and cortisol.

    As a result, they have fewer resources to allocate to DHEA production, which can ultimately disrupt hormonal balance.

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    Is Dhea The Answer To Your Menopause Woes

    Every corner of our body has alarms in place. When we experience imbalances, our body triggers these alarms, alerting every organ for backup.

    During menopause, our ovaries start to falter which decreases estrogen and progesterone supply. To make up for the hormone decline, our body commands the adrenal glands to work extra hard to produce DHEA. Depending on our needs, this inactive hormone converts to estrogen or progesterone.

    For this reason, experts say DHEA is an excellent supplement for menopause as it helps in hormone production and balance. It can also boost testosterone and regulate cortisol, the stress hormone.Besides being a mother hormone, DHEA has numerous health benefits of its own. In fact, we have plenty of DHEA receptor sites in the body. Our major organs, like the brain, heart, skin, immune system, muscles and bones, all need DHEA to function at their best!

    However, DHEA production decreases as we age. Experts say DHEA slowly drops as early as our late 20s. After the age of 40, we may already have a significant decline in DHEA levels.

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    Doesnt Seem To Increase Muscle Size Or Strength

    Due to its ability to increase testosterone levels, many believe that DHEA can increase muscle mass or muscle strength .

    However, the majority of research shows that taking DHEA supplements does not increase muscle mass or muscle performance.

    This has been shown in young, middle-aged and elderly adults over periods lasting from four weeks to one year (

    28 ).

    One study found that DHEA decreased fat mass by about 4% over the course of four months, although this was in patients with adrenal gland problems .

    While the effects of standard DHEA supplements on fat mass arent impressive, a different form of DHEA may be more promising.

    This form of the supplement, called 7-Keto DHEA, has been reported to increase metabolic rate in overweight men and women .

    Whats more, during an eight-week exercise program in overweight adults, body weight and fat mass decreased three times more after taking 7-Keto DHEA supplements, compared to placebo .

    In this study, individuals taking the supplement lost about 6.4 pounds of body weight and 1.8% body fat. Those in the placebo group only lost 2.2 pounds and 0.6% body fat.

    While more research is needed, its possible that this form of DHEA could help you lose fat.

    Summary: Most research shows that standard DHEA supplements are not typically effective for fat loss. However, a different form of this hormone called 7-Keto DHEA might be more effective in aiding fat loss.

    Dhea For Women: A Delicate Hormonal Balance

    So, you cant look to DHEA supplementation as a stand-alone solution. It just doesnt work that way. DHEA is one part of the whole concert of hormones at work every moment in your body. Before you tinker with that balance its a good idea to understand what is going on in your life on all levels physiologically and emotionally.

    After menopause or a hysterectomy, when your adrenals become the primary hormone factory, we see women in whom the ratio of DHEA that is converted into testosterone outweighs whats converted into estrogen and progesterone. This can cause bouts of increased irritability and unusual body hair growth, especially when DHEA supplements are given without prior and follow-up testing of total and free testosterone levels.

    Free testosterone is the portion of the hormone that is biologically active in your bloodstream. After menopause, a woman may have volatile levels of free testosterone at work, which accounts for some of the annoying male-pattern facial hair thats common during the transition. Most doctors only test total testosterone levels, not the combined amount. Adding DHEA to this scenario can tip the scale drastically.

    On the other hand, Ive also seen patients who convert most of their DHEA into estrogen. In this case, DHEA supplements create a different kind of estrogen-progesterone imbalance with symptoms similar to PMS, including breast tenderness and mood swings. For more information, see our article about estrogen dominance.

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    What Are The Risks Of Taking Dhea

    • Side effects. Most side effects are mild, like headache, fatigue, insomnia, and congestion. Because DHEA affects hormone levels, it can cause other symptoms. Women may have abnormal periods, acne, or mood changes. They might also take on masculine characteristics, such as facial hair or a deeper voice. Men might develop more breast tissue, high blood pressure, and other problems.
    • Risks. Using high doses of DHEA may not be safe. People who have heart problems, liver disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid problems, polycystic ovary syndrome, and a history of clotting problems should not use DHEA. DHEA may increase the risk of some cancers that are affected by hormones, like cancers of the breast, ovaries, and prostate.
    • Interactions. If you take any medications regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using DHEA supplements. They could interact with blood thinners, anticonvulsants, hormone therapy, and drugs for diabetes and heart or liver problems.

    Because DHEA is a powerful hormone, it is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Can Help Correct Some Adrenal Problems

    DHEA Review For Women With Adrenal Fatigue

    The adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys, are one of the main producers of DHEA .

    Some individuals have a condition called adrenal insufficiency, in which the adrenal glands cant produce normal amounts of hormones.

    This condition can produce fatigue, weakness and changes in blood pressure. It can even progress to become life-threatening .

    DHEA supplements have been examined as a way to treat symptoms of adrenal insufficiency. Some research indicates that they may improve the quality of life in these individuals (

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    What Forms And In What Dosages Does Dhea Come In

    Capsules are the most common form. Compounding pharmacies can make it in any dosage that a doctor recommends, from 5 mg to 200 mg. They can also make it in creams, ointments, and even lozenges.

    If you buy DHEA without a prescription, you can generally find it in 10, 25, and 50 mg capsules.

    One of the practical problems of taking DHEA orally is that the blood supply from the stomach and intestines goes through the liver before making its way to the rest of the body. The liver is the chemical factory of the body and it makes good sense for it to have first crack at the blood supply from the digestive system. Physicians call this the first-pass effect.

    One of the livers functions is to metabolize sterols and steroids. Cholesterol is a common dietary sterol and the liver bundles it into lipoproteins for distribution to body tissues. If theres not enough cholesterol in the foods we eat, the liver makes more of it to make up the difference. The liver also metabolizes DHEA. Because of this, DHEA pills that you swallow will first be metabolized by the liver and the amount that reaches the general circulation will likely be less than the ingested dose. The factors that influence absorption from the intestines and metabolism by the liver vary significantly with age and health condition. Testing may be the only way to know for sure how much is making it into the bloodstream.

    Our knowledge with DHEA is where estrogen was about two or three decades ago.

    Dhea Treatment And Well

    Most RCT have not demonstrated a beneficial effect of DHEA on well-being in postmenopausal women . The only trials that have reported an improvement in mood used supraphysiological doses of DHEA . A randomized trial of 57 elderly women given 50 mg daily DHEA for 24 months showed no improvements in quality of life . In a recently published randomized trial, there were no beneficial effects of 50 mg DHEA on mood, quality of life, perceptions of physical and emotional health, and life satisfaction likewise, another trial of 50 mg DHEA failed to demonstrate improved well-being measured by the PGWBI . Despite showing beneficial effects on sexual function in women with dyspareunia, intravaginally administered DHEA showed no improvement in well-being determined by PGWBI scores .

    It has been suggested that as ovarian function declines at menopause, the only physiologically based strategy to treat symptomatic postmenopausal women is DHEA . No improvement was seen in the total score or subdomain scores for the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire in a RCT of DHEA 50 mg/d orally vs. placebo . Similarly, no effect was seen on the physical and psychological domains of the MENQOL with intravaginal DHEA, whereas the sexual domain score, which includes vaginal atrophy symptoms, improved in this study of women with vaginal atrophy . Taken together, DHEA does not offer therapeutic benefit for women experiencing menopause-associated vasomotor or psychological symptoms.

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