Low DHEA I'm 45

I have struggled with fatigue for the last 15 years. ..Knowing my own body I could totally tell that something was going on. ..I had an independent dr that I paid for labs on all my hormone panels...I found thru his diagnosis I was low in testosterone and estrogen dominant. .insulin resistant. ..with metabolic syndrome and my dhea was 30.....those levels should belong to an elderly women of 90 years.....I have no thyroid issues...nor can they find any 24 hour cortisol issues in the urine...I am no closer to finding out what's wrong with me than I was 15 years ago. ...Frustrated and Fatigued

38 Replies

  • hi Lorre,

    what did your doctor recommend? did he put you on any supplement programme and/or diet to help?

    I also had/have low DHEA and was eostrogen dominant and have tried to support this over last few years - whilst I haven't had levels re-tested recently I do feel much better


  • Jacs what did you do to improve your DHEA please?

  • hi margo, I tried a number of things simultaneously (probably not the best idea but was desperate at the time!) I used pregnenolne cream on my skin twice a day, plus took pregnenolne tablets for a while, and also DHEA(though I didn't get on with taking tabs directly - possibly too much with the cream too). I also took nutri thyroid and nutri adrenals in fairly large doses and supplemented with b12/folate, vit d and multi it's whilst monitoring my temperature, blood pressure and pulse along with dairying my symptoms.

    eventually I began to feel better and reduced all of the above, again whilst closely monitoring. not perfect but 500% better than a few years ago.

    in my opinion we are all different so it's important to closely monitor yourself and listen to what your body tells you - you will work out what's good for you and what isn't. eventually

  • Thank you Jacs, very interesting information.

  • He thought that my thyroid was on the low end and prescribed Armour Thyroid... It sent my heart into a really fast pace... Plus he tried me on Progesterone pills 50 mg .. Did nothing for me...

  • Hi Loree. You could try pregnenolone (Biovea in the USA supplies bottles of 50mg strength on-line). My morning cortisol was high and my DHEA correspondingly low. Some doctors treat this with DHEA if they know what is going on with the Adrenal Glands (most do not) Pregnenolone is the 'mother hormone' of all the adrenal hormones I take 100mg with my thyroid meds every morning and my sleep has hugely improved, My high cortisol used to wake me up at 3 am! Suggest you google pregnenolone



  • Hi you say your cortisol was high. I'm having trouble with adrenals. Do you know the reference range for 8am and should you be fasting before the test. I've a pituitary gland tumor so think ACTH secretion is effected, do you know this range. Help appreciated.

  • According to my saliva test range, normal morning 8.00am cortisol value is (normal range 6.0-42.0 nmol/L). My morning cortisol was 50.2*H, placing it in the too high range.

    Midday, mine was 8.6 (normal range 2.0-11.0 nmo/L), afternoon 3.6 (normal range 2.0-11.0 nmol/L), evening 1.3 (normal range 1.0-8.0 nmol/L). Therefore, the morning was too high and the evening on the low side of normal. The cortisol daily total was 63.7 (normal 11.0-76.0 nmol/)...so overall cortisol was high side of normal.

    My DHEA Values were: Morning 7.8 (normal range 2.5-25.0 nmol/L)

    DHEAS/CORTISOL AM were 0.16*L (normal range 0.20-0.60), making my corresponding cortisol and DHEA levels out of balance!

    High morning cortisol relates to correspondingly low morning DHEA.

    Some integrative doctors prescribe DHEA, but I have read that Pregnenolone may be better because it is the precursor of all adrenal hormones (the mother hormone) and is therefore more natural. My doctor was unfamiliar with the saliva test and was unwilling to prescribe DHEA. Therefore I took matters into my own hands and sourced Pregnenolone from BIOVEA (USA). The most distressing symptom of high cortisol I had was an inability to maintain sleep. With melatonin and pregnenolone this has improved considerably.

    People who have had undiagnosed Thyroid issues for a long time before being treated, are particularly susceptible to adrenal fatigue

  • i know that progesterone usp cream that can be bought over the counter will bring estrogen dominance back inline...that means you have too much estrogen to progesterone ration but little of both. Many women do fine with progesterone usp cream twice daily rubbed on the inside wrist. Some take low dose dhea capsules only and retest in 8 weeks....hence it can change several hormones ....may want to google some of these things....

  • i have been told to take my creams vaginally, i was told that progesterone, especially doesn't work well on the skin. Been doing this for 5 years now..spoken to many specialists.

  • I have been using them on the skin, thin skin area arms etc and they do work..bec I have the blood test results to prove it....so that is weird you were told that....but whatever works for you

  • i don't like doing my creams that way. I was given progesterone pills too, but never on the skin.

  • Progesterone vaginally, I've only heard it being used in early pregnancy. And for hormone balance if most definitely works through the skin. I don't know why your doctor would say it doesn't. They wouldn't sell if for skin application if it didn't work.

    I used Progesterone vaginally early in pregnancy, and it made me feel tired and it puffed me up all over, esp my face. as soon as I stopped using it, the puffiness went away.

  • No one i ever consulted had me use bio identical progesterone, on my skin. The Estrogen was a patch, for awhile tho .I have consulted with 3 hormone replacement specialists and this is what they do. I know of 5 doctors, off hand saying vaginal. Its bio identical, maybe that makes a difference..the prog. pills were supposed to help me sleep, but didn't work. i use bio identical bi-est cream vaginally, as well, both compounded. Recently stopped the Testosterone, due to acne.

  • i was curious as to why you are on a thyroid forum? Do you happen to have labs for free t3 or? What symptoms do you have..any that could be low thyroid? Tests don't tell the whole picture with thyroid and are the reason many stay ill by doctors. They tell you your levels are fine, but you can still be very ill. you can have normal labs and have hashimotos disease and have every thyroid symptom in the book.

  • i agree. many times a dr says it is normal when they are going by the old version of normal which is hypo

  • i avoid doctors, like the plague!

  • Amen.... As long as you have a 1 your still in range. Right.... Bull crap

  • Faith, I just posted the labs i had done from the Endo Dr. in EDDIE reply box... Please take a look... Thanks

  • i can tell not much, with no ranges..they mean nothing. But, based on ranges i have seen for free t3, yours is very low, which would cause fatigue.

  • Loree, it might help people to comment if you posted your actual results here - especially the thyroid labs. :)

  • i just posted them to EDDIE below....

  • I am not sure what is going on with your body, you have my sympathy. As a starting point l would look at leaky gut syndrome. It seems to be an auto immune trigger, but fairly new to diagnoses market and not entirely proven.

  • I get everything coming and going, every 6 to 8 weeks i am sick with upper respitory, viruses, mono, shingles, you name it...

  • Hi, I have low cortisol and low DHEA, plus Hashimotos. I thought impaired adrenal function went hand in hand with low DHEA. As my adrenals have gotten to the exhaustion phase so has my DHEA been flagged as low.

    I take Micron 5 DHEA @ 25mg made by McPherson labs from America. I can't remember where I bought them from now, but if you Google this info adding "to buy" it should come up. When I first took a full tablet I'd get diarrhoea, so I cut to half a tab and went on from there. I take it for a couple of weeks then have a break, I don't think you take it all the time but I may be wrong.

  • DHEA supplement can lower your cortisol even further.

  • I have read alot about DHEA. Is it your oppinion that it makes you feel worse

  • Not really....but it is something to consider taking only if you're also supplementing with Cortef or Hydrocortisone. When we're young and all things are working correctly, we have a nice high DHEA within range (and the ranges are strange, I think one day they'll change them to reflect age) and a balanced diurnal Cortisol. When things are off, our DHEA drops, esp if we're low cortisol. So if you're taking DHEA it's only going to make the cortisol stay low and the adrenal sluggish.

    DHEA def 'does' something to me, I'm just not quite sure what it is! LOL I say that, because I 'feel' it once I take it. I feel it in my lips, first and maybe my tongue. This happens whenever I take hormones. I'm very sensitive. It's good because at least I know that whatever I'm taking is "real" or it has potency. The only hormone I've ever taken that did not give me this feeling was Testosterone, so I think it is no good. But IDK. But I don't take it, just tried it years ago. I would like to get my hormones balanced out, but I really think I need to get my thyroid and adrenals in better shape, first.

    DHEA is used by body builders to offset a cortisol rush which can be detrimental to keeping the size of the muscle and strength gained after 'pumping iron'.

  • I'm like you, I'm low on all the chemicals. And I have the body to prove it! LOL Yeah, I'm running on empty, but I concentrate on thyroid and adrenal now. I'd like to get those in better shape, and then move on to the estro's, DHEA and Testosterone. All my catocholamines are low, too, which are adrenal hormones. So I must get adrenal and thyroid better before I go on. At least that's how I feel about it. One doctor wanted to give me T4 until I felt better, keeping increasing it biweekly until symptoms improved. Yeah...that meant I could be on 200 T4, but whenever i felt better she wanted to put me on estrogen therapy and she said that will be the real kicker for feeling well, but first she wanted me to get a chest exray to examine veins because once you start taking estrogen it can release 'vein gunk' and cause a heart attack. Uh.... I left her. I think she was a bit on the crazy side. But she was right that estrogen is part of the equation.

  • Hi Marvalrus, I'm taking 15 mg hydrocortisone daily.

  • That's pretty decent. I will tell you something that is somewhat interesting, esp if you are Rx'd HC. I personally had an adrenal gland removed because of an adenoma. When I was released from the hospital, I found that every time I took HC it made me feel sick. Then I remembered from reading a forum for Cushing's and Addison's that some people just could not take generic HC. Cortef name brand only. So I switched to name brand Cortef and had zero problems like the generic. Hunting around for info about this, I found a link to someone with Addison's, I believe and I was amazed at all the people who concurred and agreed that generic HC's made them ill! Check this out... If you are Rx'd HC, tell the pharmacist you want Cortef only. I do have to pay the difference, but I don't mind.


  • Might you have sleep apnoea?

  • DHEA supplements are fairly cheaply available, my approach would be to keep a diary, try them, if no better don't buy any more. Note: this is not qualified medical advice but have tried similar methods before and later GP has approved "if it works and not harmful, at worst just wasting money."

  • Proper thyroid level must be restored before you start supplementing other hormones because thyroid is so basic. If you have thyroid testing to share, please do so. If your Dr. merely told you your thyroid is "normal" ... don't accept his word! T3 is esp. crucial to support adrenals.

    Having said that, I have taken supplemental DHEA for a while now (along with thyroid) to shake off issues caused by a celiac-enteropathy-Hashimotos-hypothyroid-hypoadrenal-hypoprotein syndrome. I prefer oral DHEA over transdermal because I have run into patients who have had problems with transdermal. I use one 25mg tab of the Douglas brand of micronized DHEA daily. For females, an appropriate dosage (one that pulls your DHEA-S up to the level of, say, a 30-year-old) would be less. If you decide to use DHEA, don't overdose, get tested to make sure you are below the range top for, say, a 30 year old.

  • My DHEA level is 35.... I have all my labs and would be happy to share the results. I also birthed my first full term baby at 41.... after 23 years of marriage. She is a miracle..... I just want to get to feeling better to have fun with her....Is that DHEA low to you....

  • SED Rate ERYTH 13mm/HR.....Urinary Free Cort 7.3ncg/24h.......TOTAL VOLUME URINE1900 ml...... Urine CREA 1.41 g/ 24h...Cortisol Am 12.3

    Thyroid has a nodule non dominent in lower pole left lobe measuring 4x4x6

    ACTH 10PG/ML....Thyroid TSH 1.74 ...T4 Free 0.55 T 3 Free 3.08pg/ml

    I have lots of other blood work results from the endo dr.

    Thanks for looking over this

  • Loree, most results are meaningless without the ranges. That FT3 looks very low - which would explain a lot! - but can't say for certain without the ranges. :)

  • i have had low dhea since I was diagnosed. I was also low in all other hormones and put on thyroid meds. I have had one cortisol test done and it came back okay at that time 4 years ago...but it is strange that my dhea is always low normal...and so is testosterone without bhrt so I am on bhrt prog estr and a little testosterone....I am learning a lot just by ready everyones comments....I wonder if I should take another saliva 24 hr adrenal cortisol test? Also have had a problem with dr medicating so my ft3 was low normal....and thought that was okay. Does anyone else have ear ringing with hypothyroid.

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