About Adrenopause The Decline of DHEA Levels As We Grow Older


How DHEA Works: Testosterone, Adrenal Function & Egg Quality

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5 Minute Finding DHEA Supplementation & Cognition

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All About Adrenopause: The Decline of DHEA Levels With Age As we age our hormone levels drop, causing health complications ranging from muscle loss to cardiovascular disease. Doctors tend to focus on declining testosterone and estrogen levels in males and females, respectively. Age-related decrease of DHEA levels suggests an “adrenopause” phenomenon characterized by low DHEA and maintained cortisol levels. 9 Indeed, DHEA levels range between 1.33 ng/mL and 7.78 ng/mL between 18 and 40 years, and between 0.63 ng/mL and 4.7 ng/mL after 40 years, for both men and women.

7 By the age of 70–80 years, levels may be as low as 10%–20% of those. Adrenopause is the decline in secretion and levels of adrenal androgens such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) from the zona reticularis of the adrenal glands with age. Levels of adrenal androgens start to increase around age 7 or 8 years, peak in early adulthood around age 20 to 25 years, and decrease at a rate of approximately 2% per. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate ester are the most abundant steroids in humans. DHEA levels fall with age in men and women, reaching values sometimes as low as 10%-20% of those encountered in young individuals.

This age-related decrease suggests an “adrenopause” phenomenon. DHEA (S) levels peak at young adult age and then decline throughout adulthood into old age. The term “adrenopause” might be misleading, suggesting a specific age of transition by analogy to menopause, but the established term “andropause” also refers to a gradual decline in a hormone level. The second hormonal system demonstrating age-related changes is the circulating levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulphate (DHEAS), which.

Because of the profound age-related decrease of blood levels of the steroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA; prasterone) and its sulfate ester (DHEAS), both essentially secreted by adrenals in human beings (1–5), it has been suggested that there is an “adrenopause” characterized by low value of blood DHEA(S) with maintenance of cortisol level. DHEA levels normally decline with age in both men and women. There is no reliable evidence that taking DHEA supplements prevents aging-related conditions. DHEA is a “hormone” naturally made in the body by the adrenal glands near the kidneys and by the liver. DHEA helps to make male and female sex hormones within the body.

DHEA levels seem to. In your 20s, DHEAS levels range between 65 and 380 mcg. For 30-something women, normal levels range from 45 to 270 mcg/dL, with levels further dropping to 32 to 240 mcg/dL in your 40s.

Levels vary from 26 to 200 mcg/dL in your 50s, from 13 to 130 mcg/dL in your 60s and from 17.

List of related literature:

Evidence supports a progressive age-related decline in the circulation of DHEA and DHEAS starting in the early 20s, with a decrease of 1.5% each year until levels diminish to only 10% to 20% of peak values by the age of 70 (Orentreich et al., 1984).

“Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults” by Danielle R. Bouchard
from Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults
by Danielle R. Bouchard
Human Kinetics, Incorporated, 2020

Following peak levels in early adulthood, there is an inexorable decline in DHEA production such that by 80 years of age, circulating levels are only 10% to 20% of those in young adults,49 whereas adrenal glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid synthesis is relatively unchanged.

“Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric E-Book” by J. Larry Jameson, Leslie J. De Groot
from Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric E-Book
by J. Larry Jameson, Leslie J. De Groot
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2015

In contrast to the glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid adrenal steroids, whose plasma levels remain relatively high with aging, DHEA levels undergo a steady decline after age 30.

“Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance” by William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch, Victor L. Katch
from Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance
by William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch, Victor L. Katch
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010

Beginning in the early 30s, levels typically decline by 10% per decade and then plateau around the age of 80 years.3,4 This decline in DHEA production, often referred to as adrenopause, ultimately results in an 80% loss of total DHEA production compared with that of a young adult.

“Textbook of Natural Medicine E-Book” by Joseph E. Pizzorno, Michael T. Murray
from Textbook of Natural Medicine E-Book
by Joseph E. Pizzorno, Michael T. Murray
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2012

The adrenal gland produces a sex hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), that progressively declines after age 30; at age 60 the level of DHEA is about half of what it was during youth.

“Health & Wellness”
from Health & Wellness
, 2008

All these findings might suggest that DHEA administration would reverse age-related decline in function.

“Handbook of Health Research Methods: Investigation, Measurement and Analysis” by Shah Ebrahim, Ann Bowling
from Handbook of Health Research Methods: Investigation, Measurement and Analysis
by Shah Ebrahim, Ann Bowling
Open University Press, 2005

However, unlike the other steroid hormones, production of DHEA peaks between the ages of 25 and 30, and then declines with increasing age.

“The Encyclopedia of Nutrition and Good Health” by Robert A. Ronzio
from The Encyclopedia of Nutrition and Good Health
by Robert A. Ronzio
Facts On File, 2003

DHEA levels begin to decline in the 30s and continue to decline steadily until a low is reached by the age of 60 years.

“Primary Care E-Book: A Collaborative Practice” by Terry Mahan Buttaro, Patricia Polgar-Bailey, Joanne Sandberg-Cook, JoAnn Trybulski
from Primary Care E-Book: A Collaborative Practice
by Terry Mahan Buttaro, Patricia Polgar-Bailey, et. al.
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2019

The adrenal androgens, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione, decline with age regardless of menopausal status, or even gender.10 Testosterone levels of ovarian origin do not change appreciably during the menopausal transition, but later decline slowly over time.

“Pharmacology for Women's Health” by King, Tekoa L. King, Mary C. Brucker
from Pharmacology for Women’s Health
by King, Tekoa L. King, Mary C. Brucker
Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2010

Levels of DHEA decline with age; a 70-year-old produces about 10 percent of the DHEA levels produced by a 20-year-old.

“The Perfect 10 Diet: 10 Key Hormones That Hold the Secret to Losing Weight and Feeling Great-Fast!” by Michael Aziz
from The Perfect 10 Diet: 10 Key Hormones That Hold the Secret to Losing Weight and Feeling Great-Fast!
by Michael Aziz
Sourcebooks, 2011

Alexia Lewis RD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Heath Coach who believes life is better with science, humor, and beautiful, delicious, healthy food.

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  • I’ve been having hot flashes for the past 10 years! At 52, my doctor took me off birth control and I was hit hard with hot flashes.
    About 6 months ago, I started taking 10ml of Dhea daily and the hot flashes have pretty much stopped. Love it!!

  • Hey, would you do a study on Liothryonine (T3) and cognition? I’ve read somewhere that it can work as a nootropic, and n=1 I have experienced slight improvement. Very curious about this! Oh, same goes for Iodine, whoa, I notice a great improvement cognitively and mood wise when I take 12+ mg Lugol’s iodine.

  • I am a 61 year old female. My doctor told me to take this. I took it for 6 months and almost 50% of my hair fell out. Be careful with this supplement.

  • Dr. Can you tell me how long it takes for DHEA to start working. I’ve been using Biosome by metagenics. It’s a spray. For a woman how much should you be taking?

    My dhea was near 0
    My testosterone Near 0
    Cortisol high during the noon hours
    Prog good
    Estrogen a little high

    I’m anxious. No motivation depressed. And need my life back. All I do is cry

    Thank you so much
    God Bless you

  • I take 200 mg a day first thing when I wake up so it binds to my T. last year I was 196 with high cholesterol. Today I’m 159 with muscle. I’m 43 and feel great.

  • I’m in the US and LOVE cycling so my first feeling was that maybe DHEA might be banned in some sports. If you compete, you may want to look into it!

  • You can find DHEA on Biovea. That’s where I buy my stuff. Their stuff is pretty good! I live in England and I know it’s not legal in the UK but they bring it from America.

  • You left out one big factor. Dhea can very easily take the estrogen path. Meaning drop testosterone and increase your estrogen bitch titties and noooooo sex drive for a very long time. �� for real. I lived through it and it took weeks to recover.

  • Food glaze in the thymus on your site is an ingredient that typically has corn in it. Disappointed because I am allergic to corn and can’t risk that one:/

  • I have taken DHEA once weekly as maintenance, but will look into this. Thanks for your work. My family has severe dystonia (Not the spasm type, the non-releasing muscle type [Muscles wench tighter over time]). MRSa carried over 10 years and Antibiotics every year for 15 years straight…

    It is traced to recessive genes in Irish Scottish and NA combined recessive famine genes. Scoliosus in most family members and is a constant battle for all our lives. So Always dealing with excess pain, even when it appears I’m not. This causes Cortisol overload and endochrine issues. Thank you so much for your help, I will be supporting you as soon as I’m capable.

  • You have to take it as soon as you wake up. Woman over 25 take 50 100 mg and men over 25 need to take 100 200. This is the sweet spot. You won’t even need to exercise. First thing in the morning. FIRST THING!

  • Is it safe to take DHEA with Annas wild yam cream for hormone balance? My Dr. prescribed the DHEA because I have very high early morning cortisol.

  • The solution to any anxiety is to stop caring, live and let live. Somebody is messing with you or bullying you, just ask them, is that it, are you finished. Just say, sorry man I don’t know what you want from me, I can’t help you. Tell bill collectors, sorry man, can’t give you what I don’t have. Their criticizing your character and way of living, just say, I know man, it’s messed up, I agree. The rent is late, tell them don’t worry man, its happening. What good are you to anybody being bogged down with worry. Free yourself from worry to be more effective on doing something worthy of your time. Solutions. Your survival depends on you feeling good and confident about yourself, protect yourself from overwhelm and worry, you can’t be at more than one place at the same time, your needy friend is going to have to accept your unavailability and figure things out or find someone else. Etc. Be reasonable, realistic and above all love yourself first man. Get good sleep, nutrition, take care of yourself. If your health crashes, then you will have something to worry about. Right now, it’s just an attitude adjustment. If you get sick, it might be a lifestyle adjustment. Protect and Care for your need to be happy and to be confident, be worry free. Don’t worry, be happy. Stay busy being effective and doing all you can reasonably do, when it is reasonably the best time for your health.

  • I’m a 30M who has taken regular DHEA (pill) for the past year daily. The first 6 months I took 50mg and then 25mg for the last 6 months. I went cold turkey a few days ago and felt incredibly unmotivated / lethargic. I was unsure if i needed to taper to 12.5 mg for a few weeks or longer, then to 6.25mg before stopping. Due to the length of time I had taken DHEA, I was unsure if my body had down regulated hormone production (thus the need to taper). Do you have any recommendations on stopping? Thank you!

  • This may be a coincidence but I started a 50 mg supplement and after 2 days my menses started. I stopped so I could do more research and then started a 10 mg supplement and again after 2 days menses started. It could definitely be timing because I did wait around a month apart, it is a big coincidence. I am in very early 40s still have a cycle as the menses demonstrate. I am looking at DHEA predominately for libido.

  • DHEA is not something to play around with. Please be careful. For women it can screw up your hormones and promote fibroid growth. Too much and you can have heart palpitations and lose hair.

  • It would help, especially to anyone very new to natural approaches, if you would say the full DHEA instead of chronically saying DHA

    No wonder so many think you’re talking about fish oil. You say DHA far more than the actual supplement in your video title.

    We appreciate your research and sharing very much. Thank you and I hope you get some good rest.

  • I use 25 mg DHEA and 600 mg Co Enzyme q10 for a month. At the second day of my period I experienced a terrible head ache. I felt as if my brain is swolen inside my skull. Never had such a head ache before. I went to the emergency room and my uterus ultrasound and blood work was normal, my italian gynecologist is not very supportive of these substances, and he suggests we use donor eggs or adopt a child… I am 46 married in late January trying to preserve my fertility, if it does still exist… as best as I can… what would you suggest me to do. I am having very regular cycles and would like to conceive naturally!!! In Italy IFV is against the law for women over 42. This is very crazy but the truth. We can go to another country maybe but could not arange this yet and I am running out of time… I went to a different gynecologist too, although my FHS, LH, AMH are saying that I can conceive my own child, the doctors are trying to push the donor eggs.

  • As DHEA is a precursor hormones in the whole hormone cascade, if you are going to drive this up: you have to then test how that translates. If it drives up testosterone in men….then you have to make sure that testosterone is not being converted to DHT or to estrogen! Similarly with women….if DHEA is driving up estrogen, which estrogen is that driving (E1 we wouldn’t want to drive up) nor androgens for women with a genetic propensity,! Also driving up any hormones we need to make sure how is it being metabolised efficiently (you can only test this through urine metabolites).. You cannot take DHEA if you are not making sure your body is utilising it in the correct way.otherwise it is potentially dangerous. See my serious on Men’s Hormones.

  • dhea for europe you can get from a company now using ebay legit company they found that selling from a website didnt pay the same returns than useing ebay. not everything is evil on ebay you have to use the grey cells..

  • This should only be taken by people over 40. If you are under 40, you should have your levels tested first. I am in my late 50’s and it has worked wonders for me! My level was extremely low! Be careful! You are so young to be taking it!

  • Per Dr Jonathan Wright, the father of bioidentical hormone replacement, never ever take Dhea, or any other hormone orally. Everything taken orally hits the liver before entering the circulation system, and the liver will detect a surge in hormones and break it down before it gets to your body. Use cream, cream, and only cream. Top it off with Dmso to make it absorb completely. Oral Dhea according to Dr Wright gets changed by the liver into other hormones you might not want. Search Dhea on http://www.greenmedicineonline.com to hear him speak about it on his radio program.

  • From most clinical studies, dhea seems to favour women more than men..is this true? Can men with Low Testosterone increase Testosterone to a normal range with Dhea.? Dhea -S readings is at 278ug/dl

  • I get low libido from being nagged and yelled at. A nagging man or woman, an abusive man or woman will kill libido immediately. Boom

  • Hello
    I’m 58 female, hysterectomy at 34 ovaries left, what dose of DHEA do you recommend. I have-been on hrt oestrogen only patch, for 6 years, had to come off because of headaches.
    I know have terrible fatigue burning in my knees, osteopenia, depression ( on sertralene)headaches, insomnia, stress, anxiety, hot flashes etc. I’m awaiting for blood tests which I paid for privately as the doctors are not helpful at all. I’ve had a consultation at a menopause clinic which suggested oestrogen and testosterone? But I am waiting for my blood results to indicate my hormone levels.
    My question is would DHEA be sufficient to regulate my hormones and what dose do you recommend or do I need oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, I’m so confused have no energy, and feel dreadful.

  • Great job mike, i started taking dhea after your interview with cool doctor from portland couple of months back,i feel great using dhea, it lowers my cortisol in morning and it is great preworkout for people over 40, it is all about optimizing hormone levels instead of killing yourself in gym all the time! Keep up the great work Mike!

  • Unless you are deficient in any mineral or hormone you should not be taking supplements. most supplements are just a waste of money. Most supplements do not undergo any controlled studies and we have no idea if they do any good or harm. Just eat well and forget all the other garbage.

  • People don’t suicide because of hormone imbalance. They suicide because they want to kill themselves. How many people feel bad because they have hormone imbalance? Probably a lot. I don’t understand how talking to people, and giving them love and support and helping them develop their lives is never an option. “Let’s just give you some pills and if that doesn’t work we’ll change your dose or try another kind of pills.” Like hey no, I’m depressed because I was abused and I’m suicidal because you’re all neglecting that I’ve been abused AND THEN YOU FUCKING GET MAD AT ME FOR BEING ANGRY!

  • Mike, I been taking it 2 weeks and experience hair loss and tingling in my nipples. Could this cause me gyno? I have experience long time gyno when I use totake steroids. I been clean for 6 years but wondering If I should stop taking this. I also experience more anger. Thanks in avance for your responce

  • Been taking it for a few years, prescribed by my Functional Medicine MD. She tests my levels regularly. Health Canada took it off the approved supplement list and we can no longer buy OTC here or from the U.S. It costs a fortune to have it compounded here. ��

  • I have history of cysts surgery when I was late 20s. Now I am in late 30s, can I consume DHEA for my fertality? I am afraid the cysts may come back. Thank you.

  • After being extremely depressed for over a year, gaining weight, losing muscle I decided to finally go see a Naturopath. He had me do full blood test including hormones and found my DHEA and testosterone were severely low. I started supplementing 25mg/day DHEA and within a week I felt like my old self. Massive improvement in mood, moderate improvement in energy and sex drive. 3 weeks later my bloodwork showed normal DHEA and Testosterone levels.

    If you think your hormones are out of whack get them tested. Check them again in 2-4 weeks since hormone levels fluctuate. If they’re still off supplement as needed to get them back to normal levels.