This test is done to check the function of the 2 adrenal glands. One of these glands sits above each kidney. They are one of the major sources of androgens in women. Although DHEA-sulfate is the most abundant hormone in the body, its exact function is still not known. In men, the male hormone effect may not be important if testosterone levels are normal. In women, DHEA contributes to normal libido and sexual satisfaction. DHEA may also have effects on the immune system. The DHEA-sulfate test is often done in women who show signs of having excess male hormones. Some of these signs are male body changes, excess hair growth, irregular periods, and problems becoming pregnant. It may also be done in women who are concerned about low libido or decreased sexual satisfaction. The test is also done in children who are maturing too early (precocious puberty).
There are currently no established guidelines for dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) replacement/supplementation therapy or its biochemical monitoring. In most settings, the value of DHEA-S therapy is doubtful. However, if DHEA-S therapy is used, then it seems prudent to avoid over-treatment, with its associated hyperandrogenic effects. These are particularly likely to occur in postmenopausal females if DHEA-S levels approach or exceed the upper reference range. Most supplements contain dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), but the in vivo conversion to DHEA-S allows monitoring of either DHEA or DHEA-S.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a method of administering hormones that are structurally identical to those produced by the human body. Treatment with DHEA, which is also bioidentical, is an integral component of any comprehensive hormone restoration regimen. On the other hand, some forms of conventional hormone replacement therapy utilize hormones that are not identical to those produced by humans and are either derived from animals or synthesized. Evidence suggests that bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may be safer and associated with greater patient satisfaction than conventional hormone replacement therapy. Life Extension's Male Hormone Restoration and Female Hormone Restoration protocols provide a thorough overview of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and should be referred to in conjunction with this protocol.