Welcome to my blog!

I'm an acupuncturist, teacher, fertility specialist, patient centered advocate, mom, activist and more! This blog is a place for me to write down the things on my mind, the things I discuss over and over, and the things I find helpful, interesting, and inspiring all in the hope that someone else out there, maybe YOU, will find some of these things to be helpful, interesting and inspiring too. I love learning, I love sharing, and I am passionate about helping others lead more balanced, fertile, and healthy lives - while trying to do the same myself. So here goes... The Blogging Life...


DHEA and what you should consider before going on it for fertility!

Yes, DHEA can be associated with improved egg quality and decreased chromosomal abnormalities (and recent research support this so all the sudden fertility clinics are recommending it left and right!) but it is worth looking more in depth...

DHEA is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands and is a precursor for testosterone, estrogen and the stress hormone cortisol (as well as others). In instances where a woman is lacking in these things it can be good (in instances of premature ovarian decline when estrogen is lacking for example)

In instances where a woman is NOT lacking these things it can be bad (masculinizing, feeding into estrogen excesses, fueling growths that are dependent on extra estrogen like some sorts of tumors/masses, increasing stress hormones...)

Also, it is important to note that because hormones work on feedback loops if one hormone changes then others adjust accordingly so again, this can be good or bad, depending on if adding the hormone is really needed or not. When adding a hormone puts the body back into balance the other hormones will benefit from this, when adding a hormone puts the body out of balance the other hormones will be more likely to become out of balance too.  

The best way to really tell if a person could use DHEA is to test their current levels, if it is low, go for it, if not just say NO (a study is not reason enough for everyone to do something!)

In loo of having the basic blood test, secondary ways to tell if DHEA is a good idea include going on it and see how you feel… if you feel worse or have side effects, holistically this is a good indication that it is NOT a good fit for you, alternatively, if you feel great on it, then it might be good for you (I'd still suggest bloodwork!)

Another secondary way to tell would be to go based on other hormonal signs… like with POF and high FSH then you might infer that going on it would be good because those hormones that are made from it are low. This would be inferring that DHEA is a good match.

But why shouldn't everyone just try it?  Who can it really hurt!?

It is a known fact that growths like fibroids and endometriosis are fueled by extra estrogen, so I would strongly suggest that if endometriosis, fibroids, cysts, etc. are a known or possible issue taking DHEA is not a good idea at all!  Even if there is POF/POD, or a past medicated cycle suggests "age related" ovarian decline, if there are growths, DHEA is only going to make those worse so at best it's helping one area and making another worse.  

I feel a bit frustrated with western clinics at times (though overall they do a TON of good and have their hearts in the right place most of the time) because they often absolutely discourage their patient from doing most supplements, but then all the sudden there will be a big study or trend to use a supplement and all the sudden the same clinic will be telling their patients to take the same supplement that just a year ago the clinic would have poopoo-d.  I wish they would leave the supplements and alternative/holistic stuff to those of us who actually understand the holistic way of diagnosing and dosing, recommending.  The truth is DHEA can be really great for some and really detrimental for others and if you look at the big picture you're more likely to get it right.  

And since I know western science often seals the deal for choices, here is what a few western websites have to say which will back me up:

WebMD says: Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: DHEA is a hormone that can affect how estrogen works in the body. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use DHEA.

Depression and mood disorders: There is some concern that patients with a history of depression and bipolar disorder might have some mental side effects if they use DHEA. DHEA can cause mania (excitability and impulsiveness), irritability, and sexual inappropriateness in people with mood disorders. If you have a mood disorder, be sure to discuss DHEA with your healthcare provider before you start taking it. Also, pay attention to any changes in how you feel.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Taking DHEA might make this condition worse. Don’t use DHEA if you have PCOS.

And Mayo Clinic.com says:

Side Effects and Warnings
Few side effects are reported when DHEA supplements are taken by mouth in recommended doses. Side effects may include fatigue, nasal congestion, headache, acne, or rapid/irregular heartbeats. In women, the most common side effects are abnormal menses, emotional changes, headache, and insomnia. Individuals with a history of abnormal heart rhythms, blood clots or hypercoagulability, and those with a history of liver disease, should avoid DHEA supplements.
Because DHEA is a hormone related to other male and female hormones, there may be side effects related to its hormonal activities. For example, masculinization may occur in women, including acne, greasy skin, facial hair, hair loss, increased sweating, weight gain around the waist, or a deeper voice. Likewise, men may develop more prominent breasts (gynecomastia), breast tenderness, increased blood pressure, testicular wasting, or increased aggressiveness. Other hormonal-related side effects may include increased blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, altered cholesterol levels, altered thyroid hormone levels, and altered adrenal function. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hyperglycemia, high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, or other endocrine (hormonal) abnormalities. Serum glucose, cholesterol and thyroid levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare professional, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
National Institute of Health mimics webMD:
Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: DHEA is a hormone that can affect how estrogen works in the body. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use DHEA.

That's my 2 cents… okay, it's at least a dollars worth, but I think it's worth shedding some light in an area that can make a big difference to make the best call on an individual level instead of blindly following the crowd.  .  

No comments: