DHEA Sulfate, Immunoassay Most Popular

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Also known as: Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate, DHEA SO4, DHEA Sulfate Immunoassay, DHEAS, Transdehydroandrosterone


DHEA-sulfate test measures the amount of DHEA-sulfate in the blood. DHEA-sulfate is a weak male hormone (androgen) produced by the adrenal gland in both men and women.
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The DHEA Sulfate, Immunoassay test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: The DHEA-S (Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate) test is a laboratory test that measures the level of DHEA-S, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, in the blood. DHEA-S is a precursor hormone that can be converted into other hormones, including testosterone and estrogen.

Also Known As: DHEA-SO4 Test, DHEAS Test, DHES1 Test, Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: Dietary supplements containing biotin may interfere in assays and may skew analyte results to be either falsely high or falsely low. For patients receiving the recommended daily doses of biotin, draw samples at least 8 hours following the last biotin supplementation. For patients on mega-doses of biotin supplements, draw samples at least 72 hours following the last biotin supplementation.

When is a DHEA Sulfate test ordered?

A DHEA-S test may be ordered in various situations:

  1. Evaluation of Adrenal Function: It is commonly ordered as part of an adrenal function evaluation. Symptoms such as fatigue, changes in hair growth, and irregular menstrual cycles may prompt healthcare providers to assess adrenal hormone levels, including DHEA-S.

  2. Investigation of Hormonal Imbalances: If symptoms like hirsutism (excessive hair growth), acne, or virilization (masculinization) are present, a DHEA-S test may be ordered to assess androgen levels and help identify the underlying cause.

  3. Monitoring Hormone Therapy: For individuals receiving DHEA-S supplementation or hormone replacement therapy, regular monitoring of DHEA-S levels helps ensure appropriate dosing and treatment efficacy.

What does a DHEA Sulfate blood test check for?

Male sex hormone dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate is found in both men and women. This test determines the amount of DHEAS in your blood.


  • At puberty, it aids in the development of male secondary sexual traits.
  • Can be transformed into more strong androgens like testosterone and androstenedione by the body.
  • It has the ability to transform into estrogen.

DHEAS is almost entirely produced by the adrenal glands, with minor contributions from a woman's ovaries and a man's testicles.

It's a good indicator of how well the adrenal glands are working. Overproduction of DHEAS can be caused by malignant and non-cancerous adrenal tumors, as well as adrenal hyperplasia. DHEAS can be produced by an ovarian tumor in rare cases.

DHEAS excess:

  • In adult men, it may go unnoticed.
  • In young boys, it can cause early puberty.
  • Menstrual irregularities and the development of masculine physical traits in girls and women, such as excess body and facial hair
  • Can result in a female infant being born with genitals that aren't clearly male or female

Lab tests often ordered with a DHEA Sulfate test:

When a DHEA-S test is ordered, several other tests may be included to provide a more comprehensive assessment of hormonal health. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside a DHEA-S test:

  1. Testosterone Free and Total:

    • Purpose: To measure the levels of testosterone in the blood, both bound and unbound.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Elevated testosterone levels can cause or contribute to symptoms like hirsutism and acne, often in conjunction with elevated DHEA-S levels.
  2. Androstenedione:

    • Purpose: To measure the level of androstenedione, another adrenal androgen.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Like DHEA-S, androstenedione can contribute to androgen excess and is often elevated in adrenal hyperplasia or tumors.
  3. 17-Hydroxyprogesterone:

    • Purpose: To measure the level of this hormone, which is a precursor to cortisol and can be elevated in congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH).
    • Why Is It Ordered: To screen for or confirm CAH, especially if symptoms of androgen excess are present.
  4. Cortisol:

    • Purpose: To assess cortisol levels, which can be affected by adrenal disorders.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To evaluate adrenal function, particularly in cases where an adrenal tumor or dysfunction is suspected.
  5. Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH):

    • Purpose: To assess ovarian function, as these hormones regulate the menstrual cycle and ovarian hormone production.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To distinguish between ovarian and adrenal sources of androgen excess in women with symptoms like hirsutism or menstrual irregularities.
  6. Prolactin:

    • Purpose: To measure the level of prolactin, which can affect menstrual function and ovulation.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Elevated prolactin can cause symptoms similar to those caused by androgen excess and can affect overall hormonal balance.
  7. Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG):

    • Purpose: To measure the level of SHBG, which binds to sex hormones, including androgens.
    • Why Is It Ordered: SHBG levels can be affected by androgens and can influence the levels of free, biologically active hormones.
  8. Complete Blood Count (CBC):

    • Purpose: To provide a general overview of health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Although not directly related to DHEA-S levels, a CBC can help identify underlying health issues that may contribute to or be affected by hormonal imbalances.
  9. Liver Function Tests:

    • Purpose: To assess liver health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: The liver is involved in hormone metabolism, and liver dysfunction can affect hormone levels.

These tests, along with a DHEA-S test, can help diagnose and manage conditions associated with adrenal or ovarian hormone imbalances. They provide insights into the broader hormonal and health status of the individual, which is essential for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment planning. The selection of these tests will depend on the individual's symptoms, clinical history, and the reasons for testing.

Conditions where a DHEA Sulfate test is recommended:

A DHEA-S test is useful in the evaluation and management of various conditions, including:

  1. Adrenal Dysfunction: Abnormal DHEA-S levels can help diagnose adrenal insufficiency or adrenal tumors, which may require further investigation and treatment.

  2. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): DHEA-S levels may be elevated in individuals with PCOS, a hormonal disorder characterized by ovarian dysfunction, insulin resistance, and androgen excess.

  3. Hirsutism and Virilization: DHEA-S levels are often assessed in individuals experiencing excessive hair growth or masculinization symptoms to identify the underlying cause, such as adrenal or ovarian androgen excess.

How does my healthcare provider use a DHEA Sulfate test?

Healthcare providers use the results of a DHEA-S test to:

  1. Assess Adrenal Function: Abnormal DHEA-S levels can help healthcare providers evaluate adrenal gland activity and identify potential adrenal gland disorders.

  2. Diagnose and Monitor Hormonal Imbalances: Elevated DHEA-S levels may contribute to symptoms related to androgen excess, such as hirsutism or virilization. Monitoring DHEA-S levels helps guide treatment and assess treatment effectiveness.

  3. Guide Treatment: DHEA-S test results assist healthcare providers in determining the appropriate treatment plan for adrenal dysfunction, PCOS, or other hormonal disorders, including hormone replacement therapy or medication adjustments.

It is important to note that the interpretation and utilization of DHEA-S test results should be done by a qualified healthcare provider who considers the patient's medical history, symptoms, and other relevant factors. Treatment decisions are individualized based on the specific clinical context.

What do my DHEA-S test results mean?

A normal DHEAS level, together with other normal male hormone levels, suggests that the adrenal gland is working properly. When an adrenal tumor or cancer is present but not secreting hormones, DHEAS may be normal.

A high DHEAS blood level could indicate that the person's symptoms are caused or exacerbated by excessive DHEAS production. An elevated level of DHEAS, on the other hand, is not used to make a diagnosis of any particular condition; rather, it usually signals that further testing is required to determine the source of the hormone imbalance. An adrenocortical tumor, Cushing illness, adrenal cancer, or adrenal hyperplasia, as well as a DHEAS-producing ovarian tumor, can all cause high DHEAS.

DHEAS levels may be high in polycystic ovary syndrome, but they may also be normal, as PCOS is usually associated with ovarian androgen production.

Adrenal insufficiency, adrenal dysfunction, Addison disease, or hypopituitarism, a disorder characterized by low levels of pituitary hormones that govern the generation and secretion of adrenal hormones, can all produce low DHEAS levels.

Most Common Questions About the DHEA-S test:

Understanding the Test

What is the DHEA-S test?

The DHEA-S test measures the amount of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in your blood. DHEA-S is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands and is converted into other hormones like testosterone and estrogen.

Why would someone need a DHEA-S test?

A DHEA-S test is often ordered when an individual has symptoms suggesting an adrenal gland disorder, such as Cushing's syndrome or Addison's disease. It may also be ordered when a woman presents with symptoms of virilization (masculine physical characteristics), as high levels of DHEA-S can be associated with this.

Interpreting the Results

What do the results of the DHEA-S test mean?

Elevated DHEA-S levels may suggest an adrenal gland disorder or a condition causing excess production of androgens, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Reduced levels of DHEA-S may suggest adrenal insufficiency or hypopituitarism. However, results should be interpreted in conjunction with other lab findings and clinical symptoms.

How are the results of the DHEA-S test presented?

The results are typically reported in micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL). Normal ranges can vary based on the laboratory, but generally, normal levels differ by age and sex.

About the Test

How is the DHEA-S test different from other hormone tests?

The DHEA-S test specifically measures the level of DHEA-S, an important androgen hormone predominantly produced by the adrenal glands. While other hormone tests may measure estrogen, testosterone, or other adrenal hormones like cortisol, this test focuses on DHEA-S.

What factors can affect the results of the DHEA-S test?

Certain medications, stress, obesity, and underlying health conditions can influence DHEA-S levels. Smoking is also known to increase DHEA-S levels.

Understanding the Implications

What conditions can cause abnormal DHEA-S levels?

Conditions like adrenal carcinoma or adrenal hyperplasia can lead to elevated DHEA-S levels. Additionally, PCOS, a common condition in women of reproductive age, can result in increased levels. Low levels can be seen in adrenal insufficiency and hypopituitarism.

What are the implications of abnormal DHEA-S levels?

Abnormal levels of DHEA-S can affect multiple body functions. High levels can lead to virilization in women, causing unwanted hair growth, acne, and menstrual problems. Lower levels can lead to fatigue, depression, and a lower sex drive.

Risks and Precautions

How do abnormal DHEA-S levels impact health?

Elevated DHEA-S levels can contribute to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancers. Low levels can be associated with conditions such as chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, and certain autoimmune diseases.

Dealing with Abnormal Results

What steps should be taken if the DHEA-S test results are abnormal?

Abnormal results should lead to further investigation to identify the underlying cause. This might involve additional lab tests, imaging studies, or consultations with a specialist, such as an endocrinologist.

Interpreting the Test Results

What is the significance of DHEA-S in relation to cortisol in the DHEA-S test?

DHEA-S and cortisol are both produced by the adrenal glands, but they have opposing effects. While cortisol is involved in stress response and suppresses immunity, DHEA-S counteracts some of cortisol's effects and boosts immunity. An imbalance between these two hormones can lead to health problems.

Understanding the Importance of the Test

How does the DHEA-S test relate to infertility issues?

Elevated levels of DHEA-S may be associated with PCOS, a common cause of infertility in women. Additionally, imbalances of DHEA-S and other hormones can affect ovulation and sperm production, potentially impacting fertility.

How does the DHEA-S test assist in evaluating adrenal function?

As DHEA-S is produced by the adrenal glands, abnormal levels can indicate adrenal dysfunction. High levels may suggest adrenal hyperactivity, while low levels could suggest adrenal insufficiency.

Discussion with Healthcare Provider

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider before getting the DHEA-S test?

Consider asking why the test is being ordered, what the results might mean, and how the results might influence your treatment plan.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider after getting the DHEA-S test?

You may want to ask for a detailed explanation of your results and what they could mean for your health. If your DHEA-S levels are abnormal, you should discuss potential underlying conditions, next steps, and treatment options.

Future Considerations

How often should the DHEA-S test be repeated?

The frequency of the DHEA-S test depends on your health status and the reason for the initial test. If you're being treated for a condition that affects DHEA-S levels, your healthcare provider may recommend regular testing to monitor your condition.

What future medical tests might be needed if the DHEA-S test reveals abnormal results?

Depending on the results and your symptoms, further tests may be required to determine the cause of abnormal DHEA-S levels. This could include other hormone tests, imaging of the adrenal glands, or even genetic testing.

General Questions

How does the DHEA-S test assist in diagnosing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

In women, elevated levels of DHEA-S, along with other symptoms like irregular periods and cysts in the ovaries, can suggest PCOS. DHEA-S testing can be an important part of the diagnostic process.

How can the DHEA-S test provide insights into aging and longevity?

DHEA-S levels naturally decline with age. Some research suggests that lower DHEA-S levels may be associated with an increased risk of age-related conditions like heart disease and memory loss. However, more research is needed to fully understand these associations.

How does the DHEA-S test relate to the monitoring of adrenal gland tumors?

DHEA-S is produced by the adrenal glands, and elevated levels can indicate the presence of an adrenal gland tumor. Regular monitoring of DHEA-S levels can help in assessing the growth of the tumor and the effectiveness of treatment.

How can the DHEA-S test help in understanding the causes of abnormal hair growth in women?

High DHEA-S levels can lead to an overproduction of androgens, which can cause hirsutism, or abnormal hair growth, in women. A DHEA-S test can be used to identify this hormonal imbalance.

How does the DHEA-S test contribute to the understanding of adrenal insufficiency?

Low levels of DHEA-S can indicate adrenal insufficiency, a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones. The DHEA-S test can be a useful tool in diagnosing this condition.

Can the DHEA-S test be used in the assessment of mood and psychological health?

Yes, some research suggests a connection between low DHEA-S levels and conditions like depression and anxiety. However, the relationship between DHEA-S and mental health is complex and not fully understood.

Can the DHEA-S test be useful in the evaluation of sexual development in teenagers?

Yes, DHEA-S is one of the first hormones to increase at the start of puberty. If a child shows signs of early or delayed puberty, a DHEA-S test can help evaluate whether hormonal imbalances are playing a role.

What role does the DHEA-S test play in the management of chronic fatigue syndrome?

Low levels of DHEA-S have been observed in some people with chronic fatigue syndrome. While more research is needed, some suggest that DHEA-S supplementation could help manage symptoms. The DHEA-S test can be used to monitor levels before and during such treatment.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

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