Can DHEA Supplements Boost Testosterone In Males?

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: March 11, 2024
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As a fitness trainer, I've seen athletes, bodybuilders, and those looking to boost testosterone levels often turn to Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA supplements.

Despite its popularity, questions about its effectiveness and benefits persist.

To address these, I delved into published literature on DHEA's impact on testosterone and sought expert opinions.

After a month of research, I'm excited to share all the insights I've gathered in this article.

Quick Summary

  • DHEA supplements can boost testosterone levels by acting as a precursor hormone that the body converts into testosterone and other sex hormones.
  • While DHEA is generally considered safe in doses of 50-100 mg per day for up to two years, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.
  • DHEA supplementation leads to a higher increase in testosterone levels in women compared to men.
  • In my opinion, while DHEA supplements offer a natural approach to hormone optimization, their effectiveness and safety should be evaluated on an individual basis.

DHEA’s Effects on Testosterone

stack of supplements

Overview of DHEA's Impact on Testosterone Levels

Several studies show DHEA’s can be effective in increasing testosterone.

In a 2020 study by ScienceDirect, researchers reviewed different published studies on DHEA supplementation and testosterone.

Results showed that taking DHEA is associated with increased testosterone levels. It further revealed that the response to testosterone could be gender-specific, as the increase in testosterone was higher in women than in men [1].

A similar study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) among middle-aged men who took DHEA the night before their HIIT session showed that DHEA could increase testosterone levels and prevent testosterone decline during HIIT exercises [2].

Understanding DHEA's Role in Hormone Production

How DHEA exactly works to boost testosterone isn’t fully understood.

According to ScienceDirect, DHEA is a precursor hormone or prohormone to sex hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. Precursor hormones are substances our body converts into other hormones [3].

This suggests that an increased circulation of DHEA in the body can stimulate more testosterone.

Contradictory Findings and Ongoing Research

Other studies, however, contradict the claims that DHEA positively impacts testosterone.

One study by the NIH where men who participated in resistance training took either DHEA or placebo showed that DHEA did not enhance their serum testosterone levels. Further findings showed that men who took either DHEA or placebo had the same increase in strength and lean body mass [4].

So far, research remains inconclusive about the effectiveness of DHEA on testosterone levels.

How Long DHEA Affects Testosterone Levels?

Just like other supplements, DHEA doesn't work the same for everyone, and there's scant research on how quickly it impacts men's hormones.

But don't expect instant results; DHEA isn't a quick fix.

Research indicates it might take around six months to feel the effects, and some folks use it for up to two years [5].

It's wise to chat with a healthcare pro to figure out the right length and amount for your unique situation when thinking about dietary supplements.

Is Taking DHEA with Testosterone Boosters Safe?

man holding his head in pain

Typically, taking 50-100 mg of DHEA daily for up to two years is safe. But watch out: over 100 mg daily or use beyond two years might be risky.

Mixing DHEA with testosterone boosters? Tread carefully and seek expert advice.

Remember, safety first! Make sure your supplement plan fits your health objectives.

However, people respond differently to DHEA. Here are the possible side effects:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Nasal congestion
  • Stomach upset
  • Oily skin and acne breakouts

It’s better to seek your medical provider’s advice before taking DHEA.

Other Benefits of Taking DHEA

men working out outdoors

We've listed here some of the benefits of DHEA supplements.

1. Improve Athletic Performance

Some athletes use DHEA to increase their muscle strength and exercise endurance. That's because, according to the NIH, DHEA increases testosterone, and increased T may improve athletic performance [6].

However, it is noted that DHEA is banned in several sports leagues, including the National Football League or NFL, and is considered a prohibited anabolic agent in sports in the US.

2. Decrease Fat Mass and Prevent Obesity

There is some evidence that DHEA can reduce fat and prevent obesity. One study from the National Library of Medicine showed that participants who took DHEA for six months had a significant decrease in abdominal fat [7].

3. Increase Sex Drive

DHEA has also claimed benefits from sex drives. According to the NIH, several studies have shown that DHEA can improve libido and sexual well-being [8]. However, research in this area is limited and remains inconclusive.

4. Boost Energy

I always advise some of my clients who need more fuel for their workouts or training to use DHEA because it claims to provide more energy.

DHEA Dosage

The dosage depends on your specific needs or formula, but DHEA should generally be taken at 50-100 mg per day for no more than two years to avoid adverse effects.

Related Articles:

Interaction with Other Medications

DHEA supplements may interact with medications and health conditions, necessitating cautious use.

Potential interactions exist with insulin, anticoagulants, and hormonal therapies, emphasizing the need for medical supervision in individuals with diabetes, clotting disorders, or hormonal imbalances.

DHEA could also impact conditions like breast cancer, prostate issues, and mood disorders due to its hormonal influence. Caution is advised in cases of liver dysfunction, as DHEA metabolism occurs in the liver.

DHEA vs. Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)

From my personal experience as a fitness trainer, I've noticed that DHEA supplementation and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) offer different paths to hormone balance.

  • As mentioned above, DHEA is a natural precursor to testosterone, is gentler, and may suit those with slight testosterone dips.
  • In contrast, TRT directly administers testosterone, offering a stronger solution but with risks like heart problems and fertility issues. I've generally seen TRT recommended for those with significantly low testosterone.

Since results vary from person to person, choosing between DHEA and TRT hinges on your specific hormonal needs and health, underscoring the need for tailored medical advice.


Should I Take Dhea in the Morning or at Night?

DHEA supplements are often taken during the morning to mimic the body's natural rhythm of producing DHEA [13].

Why Is Dhea Banned?

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) lists DHEA as a prohibited substance. It's because using DHEA can lead to dose-dependent (effects change when dose change) increase in circulating androgens, which may reach greater than normal levels in the body [14].

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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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