Person picking up an Everlywell Women's Health Test to check for high DHEA sulfate in a woman

DHEA Sulfate High in Women: What to Know

Written on December 22, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is a male sex hormone that is found in both men and women. For some women, DHEA sulfate levels can be elevated. Read this article for everything you need to know.

What Is DHEA Sulfate?

DHEA sulfate is a hormone that plays a role in making testosterone and estrogen.[1] It does this through the conversion of DHEAS into testosterone and estrogen. DHEAS is made in the adrenal glands, which are two small glands that are located above the kidneys. The adrenal glands help to control several functions within the body. DHEAS is also made in the testes and the ovaries.

A healthcare provider may order a DHEAS test for several reasons, particularly if you have any symptoms of abnormal DHEAS levels. They may order one to help ensure that the adrenal glands are working optimally, especially if a woman is presenting with symptoms of elevated or depressed DHEAS levels.[2]

Symptoms that DHEAS levels may be abnormal in women include [2]:

  • Acne
  • A deeper voice
  • Hair growth on the face and body
  • Female pattern baldness
  • More muscle mass
  • Irregular periods

In addition to testing DHEAS levels, a healthcare provider may also check androstenedione (AD) levels. AD is a molecule that is made from DHEAS during the conversion process of DHEAS into usable sex hormones.[2] Getting a more comprehensive hormone panel completed can sometimes shed insight into the reason for abnormal levels, if applicable.

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What Do Test Results Mean?

DHEAS levels can vary based on sex and age. Normal levels for women ages 20 to 29 are 65-380 ug/dL. For women ages 30-39, normal levels are 45-270 ug/dL.[3] As women age, DHEAS levels naturally decline, with peak levels seen between the ages of 18and29.

If DHEA sulfate is high in women, there are several potential causes. Some of these causes include [3-5]:

  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: This is a condition in which people lack an enzyme to make hormones in the adrenal glands. If this occurs, more androgens are produced, affecting a woman’s reproductive system. This could cause changes to the menstrual cycle and excess hair growth. This can also cause DHEAS levels to be elevated.
  • Tumors: There can be tumors located on the adrenal glands that can cause high DHEAS levels. Tumors can be benign or cancerous and warrant follow-up and testing from a qualified healthcare provider.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Women with PCOS have increased levels of androgens. As a result, they may experience irregularities in the menstrual cycle, issues with fertility, acne, and cysts on the ovaries. PCOS may also cause high DHEAS levels.
  • Early onset of puberty: High levels of DHEAS in women can cause the body changes that typically coincide with puberty to happen at earlier stages or ages.

How To Lower DHEAS

While more research is needed into this area, and while DHEAS levels may be difficult to regulate with lifestyle or supplemental interventions, some research suggests that aiming to lower testosterone levels with foods may help to lower DHEAS.[6]

Try incorporating some of the foods below to help decrease testosterone levels [6]:

  • Mint: Peppermint and spearmint may aid in lowering testosterone levels.
  • Licorice root: Licorice may aid in lowering testosterone levels.
  • Flaxseed: Flaxseed is packed with healthy fats, fiber, and lignans, which are a plant-based compound that can bind to testosterone, helping to reduce levels. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been linked to reduced testosterone levels.
  • Nuts: Nuts are also a great source of healthy fats, fibers, and minerals like folic acid, selenium, and magnesium. Nut intake may help to increase proteins that bind to testosterone, helping to decrease levels.

If you want to lower DHEAS levels, it is important to consult a qualified healthcare provider. Several medications may also impact DHEAS levels, such as antipsychotics, seizure medications, estrogen, lithium, antidepressants, testosterone, sedatives, and bipolar medications.[7] For this reason, if you are working to manage DHEAS levels, it is important to do so under the supervision of a healthcare provider who can take inventory of your clinical status and what may be most advantageous for your needs.

Support Your Hormonal Health With Everlywell

At Everlywell, we combine the best in modernized, rigorous lab testing with easy-to-access, at-home medicine. We provide a range of blood tests, including several of our women’s health tests, that you can take from the comfort of your home. Your results will be analyzed in CLIA-certified labs and an experienced healthcare provider will deliver your results. Take control of your hormonal health today with Everlywell.

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  1. DHEA sulfate test. National Library of Medicine. Last reviewed November 12, 2021. Accessed on December 20, 2023.
  2. Dehydroepiandrosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. University of Rochester Medical Center. Accessed on December 20, 2023.
  3. DHEA-sulfate test. Mount Sinai Health System. Last reviewed January 9, 2022. Accessed on December 20, 2023.,50%2C%20called%20polycystic%20ovary%20syndrome.
  4. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Mount Sinai Health System. Last reviewed November 1, 2021. Accessed on December 20, 2023.
  5. Polycystic ovary syndrome. Mount Sinai Health System. Last reviewed January 10, 2022. Accessed on December 20, 2023.
  6. Rd RAM. 6 foods that lower testosterone levels. Healthline. Published August 28, 2023. Accessed on December 20, 2023.
  7. DHEA. Mayo Clinic. Published August 10, 2023. Accessed on December 20, 2023.
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