DHEA and Fertility

How effective is DHEA for conception?

At this point, you may be thinking it's too good to be true that a hormone created naturally by the body may actually help improve a woman's fertility. To find out, let's take a closer look at DHEA to see if it lives up to the hype.

First of all, the DHEA already in your body isn't going to take you from infertility to conception. If it hasn't come to your aid in that regard by now, it's not likely to any time soon. Much like androgen and estrogen -- the male and female sex hormones derived from DHEA -- its levels drop over time. So what you might want to try is adding more of it to your body. Scientists have recreated DHEA in supplement form using certain soy and wild yam chemicals.

Recent research suggests that women who take DHEA supplements can improve their odds of conception -- particularly if they're already being treated for infertility. A 2010 Israeli study found that women who took DHEA while receiving infertility treatments were three times more likely to conceive than women undergoing treatments without DHEA [source: ScienceDaily]. This was the first controlled study to look at the connection between the supplement and fertility rates, but earlier, less formal research -- as well as anecdotal evidence -- backs up the results. Some studies suggest that DHEA can also reduce miscarriage risk [source: Rice].

But even if DHEA is a miracle supplement that aids reproduction and other conditions, is it safe for the average woman to take? We'll answer that question on the next page.