DHEA Sulfate (DHEAS) Test

DHEAS test

What is DHEA Sulfate (DHEAS)?

DHEA stands for dehydroepiandrosterone, and is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands and some of it is also produced by the ovaries and testes. DHEA is converted into DHEA-S in your adrenal glands (found above the kidneys) and also the liver. DHEA is responsible for the regulation of sex hormones in both men and women (estrogen in females and testosterone in males).DHEA also has a critical role in the production of insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a hormone that helps with muscle growth and insulin sensitivity.

What is the DHEAS test?

A DHEAS test is performed to measure the level of this hormone in the body. The levels of this hormone are high in newborn babies, then quickly drop. They rise again during puberty, where these play a significant role in triggering the development of pubic and underarm hair. An abnormality in the level of DHEAS could be indicative of certain dysfunction in the development of sexual characteristics and could also mean the onset of chronic health conditions such as diabetes.

Who needs to undergo a DHEA Sulphate test?

If an individual shows at least one of these signs and symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance, the doctor would prescribe a DHEAS test. Some of the common visible symptoms of abnormal DHEAS level in women are:

– Irregular or absence of menstrual cycle
Facial hair
– Excessive acne
– Hair loss
– Infertility
– Development of male features such as deep voice, male pattern baldness etc.

Excessive DHEA level is often not easily spotted in men. In children, high DHEAS levels can be seen through the early growth of pubic and armpit hair. This test is often recommended for women having some male sexual charateristics and boys who reach puberty too soon. Even low libido in women is attributed to abnormal DHEAS levels.

What diseases are associated with low DHEAS levels?

While high DHEAS levels can lead to the development of abnormal sexual features, low DHEAS levels are associated with a higher risk of the following diseases:

Diabetes
– Dementia
Erectile dysfunction
– Diminished libido
Osteoporosis
– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
– AIDS

How do I prepare for the DHEA sulfate test?

No special preparations are needed for this test as this test is conducted the same way as any other blood test. In teenage girls, doctors may request that the test be performed either before or after a menstrual period, as menstruation may affect DHEA hormone levels. You also need to inform your doctor what medications or supplements you are on, as some of them could affect the DHEA level in the body

How is this test performed?

The procedure is similar to any other simple blood test.

– A healthcare provider will clean the injection site with an antiseptic solution.

– An elastic band will be tied around the top of your arm to cause the vein to swell with blood.

– The healthcare provider will insert a fine needle into your vein to collect a blood sample in an attached tube. They’ll remove the band as the vial fills with the blood sample.

– Once the vial is filled with your blood sample, the needle is removed from the arm and a sterile gauze is applied to prevent further bleeding.

– In the case of children, whose veins are smaller, the healthcare provider will use a sharp instrument called a lancet to puncture their skin.

– Their blood is then collected into a small tube or onto a test strip. A bandage will be placed on the site to prevent further bleeding.The blood sample will then be sent to a lab for analysis.

What to expect during the test?

This is a normal blood sample collection routine. You might feel a slight stinging sensation when the needle is inserted. Some people might feel slight dizziness when the blood is being extracted. These are minor side-effects of the blood collection process and will not persist for more than a few minutes. There might be some mild bruising at the site of the injection which usually goes away in a day. In case, there is excessive bleeding or infection at the site of injection, contact doctor immediately.

What are the reference levels for DHEAS in the human body?

The normal range of DHEAS differs according to age and gender. The following table provides a rough estimation of what is considered normal DHEAS level.

Age (years)MaleFemale
18-19 108 to 441 µg/dL or 2.92 to 11.91 µmol/L145 to 395 µg/dL or 3.92 to 10.66 µmol/L
20-29 280 to 640 µg/dL or 7.56 to 17.28 µmol/L65 to 380 µg/dL or 1.75 to 10.26 µmol/L
30-39120 to 520 µg/dL or 3.24 to 14.04 µmol/L45 to 270 µg/dL or 1.22 to 7.29 µmol/L
40-4995 to 530 µg/dL or 2.56 to 14.31 µmol/L32 to 240 µg/dL or 0.86 to 6.48 µmol/L
50-5970 to 310 µg/dL or 1.89 to 8.37 µmol/L26 to 200 µg/dL or 0.70 to 5.40 µmol/L
60-6942 to 290 µg/dL or 1.13 to 7.83 µmol/L13 to 130 µg/dL or 0.35 to 3.51 µmol/L
70 and above28 to 175 µg/dL or 0.76 to 4.72 µmol/L17 to 90 µg/dL or 0.46 to 2.43 µmol/L

Does DHEAS test require fasting?

Overnight fasting is preferred for the DHEAS test. Consult your doctor for the same since the requirement is different based on age, gender, and medical history.

Is the DHEAS test recommended for pregnant women?

During pregnancy, the level of DHEAS in the blood rises because the placenta also produces this hormone. It is recommended during pregnancy as a part of routine check-up for fetal wellbeing. The normal readings for DHEAS test during different stages of pregnancy are:

Units First Trimester Second Trimester Third Trimester
µg/dL 74 – 611 4 33 – 28930 – 241
µmol/L 2 – 16.5 0.9 – 7.8 0.8 – 6.5

What is the price of the DHEAS test in India?

The price of the DHEAS test in India lies close to Rs 2450.

When can I expect the results of the DHEAS test?

The test results are typically available within a 2-3 days of the test.

What does it mean if I have high DHEAS levels?

A high DHEAS level could indicate one of the following conditions. Further tests would be required in order to accurately diagnose the exact reason for the elevated DHEA level:

– Congenital adrenal hyperplasia ( a common genetic disorder)
– Adrenal gland tumors (benign or malignant)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
– Adrenal Carcinoma ( malignancy in adrenal gland outer layer)

What does it mean if I have low DHEAS levels?

If you have lower than normal DHEAS levels as per your age and gender, it could point to:

– Adrenal insufficiency as seen in Addison’s disease
Pituitary hormone deficiency or hypopituitarism
– If you are on glucocorticoid medications, the low levels of DHEAS could be possible because of the drug interaction.

What other drugs can affect the DHEAS level in the blood?

Drugs that can elevate DHEAS levels:
– DHEA supplements
– Diabetes drugs such as metformin
– Prolactin supplements
– Danazol
– Calcium channel blockers
– Nicotine

Drugs that can suppress DHEA levels:
– Insulin
– OCPs (Oral Contraceptive Pills)
– Corticosteroids
– Dopamine
– Fish oil supplements
– Vitamin E supplements

What is the most suitable time for undergoing a DHEAS test?

Generally speaking, most hormone levels fluctuate throughout the day and also in the presence of certain stressors. For women, the hormonal fluctuation is high during the period of menstruation. So most blood tests that check for hormonal levels are often done at a particular time. But, DHEAS levels remain stable so the test can be conducted at any time of the day. However, in some cases owing to the menstrual cycle, the test might be conducted either before or after the periods.

What should be done next?

If you have abnormal DHEAS levels, your doctor will prescribe further tests to accurately pinpoint the cause. If you have been diagnosed with an adrenal tumor, you will need to undergo treatment in the form of surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. In other cases of hormonal imbalance, hormone therapy might be suggested to regulate the DHEA level.

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