Women diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve, premature ovarian failure, and those who are poor responders to fertility treatment cycle medications may benefit from DHEA supplementation to improve IVF outcomes.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a naturally occurring hormone secreted by the adrenals, and to a lesser extent, the testes and the ovaries. Scientists have concluded that some of the manifestations of aging are related to a DHEA deficiency. Unlike other adrenal steroid hormones, DHEA declines with age. Its decline may accompany many other age related diseases including breast, prostate, ovarian and bladder cancer, atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes, Parkinson’s and nerve degeneration.
Research published in the October 2009 issue of Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology examined the miscarriage rates of women with diminished ovarian reserved (DOR) who had received DHEA supplementation before their IVF cycles compared to women who hadn’t received the hormone. The results demonstrated a significant percentage decrease in miscarriage rates in all age groups that took DHEA. For instance, women aged 42 and above who had taken DHEA had a 25% miscarriage rate, compared to the national average of 50% for that age group. Results were significant for all age groups with DOR. The 35-37 year olds group who had supplemented with DHEA had 60% less miscarriages than the national average for that age group.
Another study released August 2009 in Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology acknowledges DHEA’s positive effects on egg quality, embryo quality, and decreased miscarriage rates in women aged 40-47.
A more recent study from the October 2010 issue of Human Reproduction demonstrated DHEA’s success with women who are classified as poor responders in IVF cycles. The research showed that women who had taken the DHEA prior to their IVF cycle yielded higher quality embryos than those women who hadn’t supplemented with DHEA. The results also reported a 23% live birth rate in the DHEA group compared to 4% in the control group.
Rebecca Rice M.S., L.Ac.
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