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DHEA Sulfate Test

What is a DHEA Sulfate test?

This test measures the levels of DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) in your blood. DHEAS stands for dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. DHEAS is a male sex hormone that is found in both men and women. DHEAS plays an important role in making the male sex hormone testosterone and the female sex hormone estrogen. It’s also involved in the development of male sexual characteristics at puberty.

DHEAS is mostly made in the adrenal glands, two small glands located above your kidneys. They help control heart rate, blood pressure, and other body functions. Smaller amounts of DHEAS are made in a woman’s ovaries. If your DHEAS levels are not normal, it may mean there is a problem with your adrenal glands or ovaries.

What is the DHEA Sulfate test used for?

A DHEA sulfate (DHEAS) test is most often used to:

  • Find out if your adrenal glands are working right

  • Diagnose tumors of the adrenal glands

  • Diagnose disorders of the ovaries

  • Find out the cause of excess body hair growth and development of masculine features in women and girls

A DHEAS test is often done along with other sex hormone tests. These include testosterone tests and estrogen tests.

Why do I need a DHEA sulfate test?

You may need this test if you have symptoms of high levels or low levels of DHEA sulfate (DHEAS).

Symptoms of high levels of DHEAS in women and girls may include:

  • Excess body and facial hair growth

  • Deepening of voice

  • Menstrual irregularities

  • Acne

  • Increased muscularity

  • Hair loss at the top of the head

Babies may also need testing if they have genitals that are not clearly male or female in appearance (ambiguous genitalia). Boys may need this test if they have signs of early puberty.

Symptoms of low levels of DHEAS may include the following signs of an adrenal gland disorder:

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Dehydration

  • Craving for salt

Other symptoms of low DHEAS are related to aging and may include:

  • Decreased sex drive

  • Thinning of vaginal tissues in women

What do the results mean?

If your results show high levels of DHEA sulfate (DHEAS), it may mean you have one of the following conditions:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a common hormone disorder affecting childbearing women. It is one of the leading causes of female infertility.

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, an inherited disorder of the adrenal glands

  • A tumor of the adrenal gland. It may be benign (noncancerous) or cancerous.

If your results show low levels of DHEAS, it may mean you have one of the following conditions:

  • Addison disease. Addison disease is a disorder in which the adrenal glands are not able to make enough of certain hormones.

  • Hypopituitarism, a condition in which the pituitary gland does not make enough pituitary hormones


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