DHEA-S Test

Test Overview

DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate) is a male hormone (androgen) that is made in the adrenal glands. The body turns it into testosterone. A test for DHEA-S checks the level of this hormone in the blood.

Testosterone affects sexual features and development. In men, it is made in large amounts by the testicles. In both men and women, testosterone is made in small amounts by the adrenal glands. In women, small amounts are made by the ovaries.

Why It Is Done

This test is usually done along with tests of other hormone levels. DHEA-S might be tested to:

  • Look for the cause of facial hair, a deep voice, or other signs of too much male hormone in a girl or woman. It may be one of the tests done to diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • To help find other conditions, such as:
    • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. This is a condition that causes the adrenal glands to make too much male sex hormone.
    • Infertility.
    • Delayed puberty.
    • Cushing's disease.
    • A tumor in an adrenal gland.

How To Prepare

If your doctor tells you to fast before your test, do not eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before you have your blood drawn. In most cases, you are allowed to take your medicines with water the morning of the test.

The test is usually done in the morning, because that is when the amount of DHEA-S is at its highest.

Women may be asked to take the test at a certain time in their menstrual cycle.

How It Is Done

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

Watch

How It Feels

When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.

Results

Normal

Each lab has a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should show the range that your lab uses for each test. The normal range is just a guide. Your doctor will also look at your results based on your age, health, and other factors. A value that isn't in the normal range may still be normal for you.

High values

Levels of DHEA may be high because you have:

Low values

Levels of DHEA may be low because:

  • In males, the adrenal glands are not making enough male sex hormones (androgens).
  • In women, the ovaries are not making enough female sex hormones (estrogen).
  • An adrenal gland has a tumor.
  • You have a condition such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

Credits

Current as of: March 31, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine

DHEA-S Test