DHEA Sulphate Test – Everything You Need to Know

What is DHEA Sulphate?

DHEAS stands for Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulphate. It is a version of a male hormone1. However, DHEAS is present in both males and females. As a male hormone, DHEAS is part of the process for development through puberty. Additionally, DHEAS also has the ability to change into other stronger hormones. This includes male hormones such as testosterone and androstenedione. And also the female hormone, oestrogen1.

The DHEAS hormone is made from cholesterol through a complex 4 stage chemical reaction that occurs in the cells of the organs that produce the hormone2.

What does a DHEA Sulphate test measure?

The DHEA Sulphate test measures the sulphated version of the DHEA hormone. Produced mainly by the adrenal glands, with smaller contributions by the sexual organs, DHEAS is controlled by the pituitary hormones1. Therefore, measuring levels of DHEAS is a good method for assessing the adrenal glands1.

The adrenal glands are extremely important organs that sit above your kidney and are responsible for producing important hormones.

Additionally, DHEAS levels can be used to assess puberty status in both boys and girls if puberty has difficulty progressing naturally1.

At ElevateMe, we measure DHEAS as a secondary marker to testosterone as they have very similar roles within the body.

The advantage of measuring DHEAS instead of DHEA is that the sulphated version of the hormone does not follow a cycle of varying levels within a 24 hour period unlike DHEA and other hormones like cortisol3.

Why is it important to get a DHEA Sulphate test?

Due to DHEAS having the ability to change into several different hormones, it is important to ensure you have the correct amount available. Shortages can have an impact on the resulting hormone levels of testosterone, androstenedione and oestrogen. This can have an effect on male/female characteristics, energy levels, and fitness.

At ElevateMe, we test your blood biomarkers with a home blood test kit. Then, our health algorithm calculates scores across 7 performance areas. We use your DHEAS levels as one of the blood biomarkers involved in calculating your Fitness score.

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The ElevateMe Health App uses your blood test results to calculate scores across 7 performance areas. Try out the health app demo for free here.

What role does testosterone have in the body?

Essentially a male hormone, testosterone is heavily involved in the development of male puberty. However, testosterone has other roles including maintaining muscle mass4. For more information on testosterone, please check out our post on the testosterone test.

What role does androstenedione have in the body?

Androstenedione is another male hormone that can be converted into testosterone or oestrogen5. This hormone is made within the sexual organs alongside the adrenal glands5. Androstenedione can also be used as a performance-enhancing drug due to the body converting it into an anabolic steroid that acts like testosterone. This will then increase muscle mass and build5.

What does oestrogen do in the body?

Oestrogen is a group of female hormones that are primarily responsible for the development of the sex organs and female characteristics6. However, oestrogen is also found in men6. Oestrogen is one of the hormones that collectively works with other hormones to create a menstrual cycle6. Additionally, oestrogen is also included in blood clotting, breaking down fats and maintaining bone density6.


What are the normal values of DHEA Sulphate?

The DHEAS horomone’s levels are high at birth. However, they settle down shortly after birth before rising again during puberty1. DHEAS levels are at their highest between the ages of 18-30 before declining throughout the remainder of the years1.

Due to the natural decrease in the hormone’s levels with age, normal ranges vary depending on age. As a male hormone, normal levels are also gender dependent and higher in males than females.

The scales below show the reference and optimal ranges for a 30 year old female. At ElevateMe we use optimal ranges instead of reference ranges used by most blood test labs. Optimal blood ranges are calculated based on the healthiest of individuals. This means that at we compare your health profile with healthy individuals to ensure you reach optimum wellness. Select a health plan today to begin your optimum health journey with ElevateMe.

Reference Range for DHEA-Sulphate for females in the age group 25-35 years (in nmol/L)
Reference Range for DHEA-Sulphate for females in the age group 25-35 years (in nmol/L)7
Optimal Range for DHEA-Sulphate for females in the age group 25-35 years (in nmol/L)
Optimal Range for DHEA-Sulphate for females in the age group 25-35 years (in nmol/L)

Symptoms of low DHEA Sulphate levels

Having a reduced level of DHEAS can affect your body in several ways. Because DHEAS is converted into one of several sex hormones, the impact of reduced DHEAS levels carries over to these sex hormones. Symptoms for these vary depending on the hormone in question that is reduced.

What causes low DHEA Sulphate levels?

DHEAS levels naturally reduce throughout your life following puberty. Therefore, the older you get, the higher your chances of having low DHEAS levels. There are also other medical conditions that can accelerate the DHEAS decrease, including:

  • Adrenal gland conditions, such as Addison disease.
  • Some medications like insulin, oral contraceptives, corticosteroids, dopamine, hepatic enzyme inducers, fish oils and vitamin E.1

Symptoms of high DHEA sulphate

There are several symptoms of increased levels of DHEAS. However, these symptoms are less noticeable in males as they tend to be male-focused and thus merge into existing male characteristics1.

The side effects of high DHEAS (for both, men and women) include:

  • Deepened voice
  • Increased body and facial hair
  • Baldness
  • Acne
  • Enlargement of Adam’s apple
  • Increased masculine characteristics1.

Additionally, for females, increased DHEAS can cause missed periods1.

What causes high DHEA Sulphate levels?

DHEAS levels can become elevated due to some medical conditions. These include:

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Adrenal gland tumours
  • Adrenal hyperplasia
  • Some medications like antidiabetic drugs, nicotine, prolactin, danazol and calcium channel blockers.1

Conclusion

Despite DHEAS not having a specific individual role within the body’s function, this pre hormone is a very useful tool as an indicator for establishing any long term issues within any of the hormones which it can change to.

Trying to be fitter?

DHEA Sulphate is one of the blood biomarkers that we use to calculate your fitness score. Having optimal levels of DHEA Sulphate is linked to increased fitness. 

Take an ElevateMe blood test today to capture 21 blood test insights and track your sleep, fitness, energy, metabolism, cognition, mood, and immunity.

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References

1 Lab Test Online, (2015). DHEAS, Last accessed 12/08/2021

2 Miller, W. (2002). Androgen biosynthesis from cholesterol to DHEAMolecular Cellular Endocrinology. 198 (1-2), 7-14.

3 Starka, L., Duskova, M. & Hill, M. (2015). Dehydroepiandrosterone: a neuroactive steroid. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry Molecular Biology.145, 254-260.

4 Lab Test Online, (2016). Testosterone, Last accessed 12/08/2021

5 Lab Test Online, (2021). Androstenedione, Last accessed 12/08/2021

6 Lab Test Online, (2016). Oestrogen, Last accessed 12/08/2021

7 NHS Gloucestershire. (2019). DHEAS. Last accessed 12/08/2021.

DHEA Sulphate test - ElevateMe Health App

Written by Louise Taylor

After completing Clinical Technology at the University of Bradford, I am venturing into the NHS as a General Medical Engineer.

17/08/2021

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