Health Guide


What is it?

DHEA is a hormone used to treat depression, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, symptoms of menopause, and lupus (SLE). It is also used to increase memory and immune system function.

Other names for DHEA include: Dehydroepiandrosterone, Dehydroandosterone, and DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S).

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have, or are at risk for, breast cancer, prostate cancer, or ovarian cancer (6)
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much DHEA you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking DHEA. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take DHEA without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Estrogen replacement therapy (examples: conjugated estrogens (Premarin(R)), estradiol (Estrace(R)))
  • Medicines used for certain mental disorders (examples: fluphenazine (Prolixin(R)), thorazine (Stelazine(R)), thioridazine (Mellaril(R)), clozapine (Clozaril(R)), haloperidol (Haldol(R)), risperidone (Risperdal(R)), lithium (Lithonate(R), Lithobid(R)), loxapine (Loxitane(R)), molindone (Moban(R)), olanzapine (Zyprexa(R)), quetiapine (Seroquel(R)))
  • Medicines used to treat depression (examples: fluoxetine (Prozac(R)), paroxetine (Paxil(R)), sertraline (Zoloft(R)), citalopram (Celexa(R)))
  • Medicines used for seizure disorders, certain mental problems, migraine headaches, or pain (examples: carbamazepine (Tegretol(R)), valproic acid (Depakote(R)), Depakene(R)))


  • Before taking DHEA, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Do not use DHEA if you are at risk of having or have breast cancer (4,5)
  • Do not use DHEA if you are at risk of having or have prostate or ovarian cancer (6)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Acne (3)
  • Hirsutism (abnormal hair growth, especially in women) (7)


1. Wolkowitz OM, Reus VI, Roberts E et al: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) treatment of depression. Biol Psychiatry 1997; 41:311-318.

2. Beer NA, Jakubowicz DJ, Matt DW et al: Dehydroepiandrosterone reduces plasma plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 and tissue plasminogen activator antigen in men. Am J Med Sci 1996; 311:205-210.

3. van Vollenhoven RF, Engleman EG & McGuire JL: Dehydroepiandrosterone in systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheum 1995; 38:1826-1831.

4. Helzlsouer KJ, Gordon GB, Alberg AJ et al: Relationship of prediagnostic serum levels of dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate to the risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer. Cancer Res 1992; 52:1-4.

5. McNeil C: Potential drug DHEA hits snags on way to clinic. J Nat Can Inst 1997; 89:681-683.

6. Skolnick AA: Scientific verdict still out on DHEA. JAMA 1996; 276:1365-1367.

7. van Vollenhoven RF, Engleman EG and McGuire JL: An open study of dehydroepiandrosterone in systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheum 1994; 37:1305-1310.

8. Yen SSC, Morales AJ & Khorram O: Replacement of DHEA in aging men and women: potential remedial effects. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1995; 774(Dec):128-142.

9. Danenberg HD, Ben-Yehuda A, Zakay-Rones Z et al: Dehydroepiandrosterone treatment is not beneficial to the immune response to influenza in elderly subjects. J Clin Endrocrinol Metab 1997; 82(9): 2911-2914.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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