DHEA is not a particularly common supplement ingredient, but it is being used more and more as an ingredient in testosterone boosters.
In this piece, we’re going to look at several key considerations:
- What DHEA is
- Whether it increases testosterone levels
- Its other benefits
- Our verdict on using it to increase testosterone
What Is DHEA?
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid hormone that is formed in the adrenal glands of the body.
DHEA is often used clinically to help women who are suffering from adrenal insufficiency, where it has been very successful.
DHEA is a pre-cursor to the sex steroid hormones estrogen and testosterone.
Does DHEA Increase Testosterone?
Technically, there is a large body of evidence that DHEA does indeed increase testosterone.
If you were to just skim the conclusions to a bunch of studies you would find that DHEA definitely raises testosterone.
However, it is not as simple as that.
Almost all of the studies that have been performed have been on women going through the menopause.
If you are an older woman then supplementing with DHEA appears to have a significant effect on testosterone.
Menopausal women will have ridiculously low testosterone compared to a man, particularly a young man.
So, the fact that there was a significant increase may not be that important at all (except to other menopausal women of course).
Considering the fact that DHEA is in a lot of supplements aimed at increasing testosterone in men it would make sense for us to check out these studies instead.
It’s a bit mixed to be honest.
Quite a few studies on both young and old men have failed to see a significant increase in testosterone.
This could be due to men having much higher testosterone levels than women.
The more testosterone you have, the less a testosterone booster will affect it.
There are studies that did see an increase in testosterone though.
A 2006 study on elderly men saw an increase in testosterone after supplementing with DHEA.
Another study in young athletes (who would generally have high testosterone levels) saw an increase in testosterone when taking 100mg per day.
After looking at the evidence it is fair to say that in some situations DHEA does increase testosterone.
However, if you are a young man looking to boost your testosterone levels then the evidence is a lot less clear.
Considering the fact that other studies have seen increases in estrogen it might be an idea to give DHEA a miss, but we can’t say for sure either way.
On Twitter, there are plenty of women talking about the benefits of DHEA, but a few men too.
Its link to both testosterone and estrogen suggests it may be able to help men and women.
Exercise improves sex life because it enables the brain to produce more DHEA, the precursor of testosterone & estrogen #fitnessafterdark
— FitFam Tweets (@FitFamTweets) December 17, 2018
This guy describes the benefits slightly controversially, but it does at least sound like it’s working.
DHEA degrades or metabolizes into TESTOSTERONE…. which then… of course has a powerful MANING UP EFFECT… it literally makes all ugly women more attractive… zeros become twos…. and lifting weights seems fun… and fighting also seems fun… and lowers empathy..
— Caliph of God (@caliphofgod) December 16, 2018
Are There Other Benefits To Taking DHEA?
There is some evidence that DHEA may reduce cortisol, which could point to it being effective for testosterone after all (elevated cortisol can reduce testosterone).
But there are just as many studies that report no effect.
Older men may see an increase in IGF-1, this could help to increase muscle size and strength.
It would be interesting to see whether there were any studies on younger men, as this could potentially be massive for bodybuilding.
DHEA may also increase nitric oxide and therefore blood flow, another excellent benefit for bodybuilders who want a decent pump.
Final Thoughts On DHEA For Increasing Testosterone
On balance, DHEA may well be worth trying.
There is quite a lot of conflicting studies, but there is the potential for this to be a really decent supplement ingredient, particularly if the IGF-1 increases are legit.
Reduced cortisol, and increased nitric oxide would also be pretty nice.