When most people discuss the effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) on in vitro fertilization (IVF), a type of assisted conception treatment, they don't usually mean the effects of this supplement on the procedure. Instead, they typically mean the effect of DHEA on the outcome of the fertility procedure or a woman's response to it. There is evidence to suggest the supplement can improve a woman's chances of producing viable eggs. In particular, this effect may be seen in aging women who might have fewer eggs left or fewer quality eggs.
DHEA is a hormone that naturally occurs in the human body. When used as a supplement, the hormone is thought to help slow the aging process and encourage better mental function. It is also said to help increase strength and performance in athletes. Some people use it to treat problems related to sexual function and to improve their sense of well-being. Though not proven as a treatment for infertility, studies of the effect of DHEA on IVF outcomes have produced encouraging evidence, and some people supplement with it in the hopes of conceiving and carrying a child to term.
Thanks to promising research on the effect of DHEA on IVF and fertility in general, many people think DHEA has a positive effect on women with diminished ovarian reserves, a condition marked by a diminished number of quality eggs. IVF is often mentioned in conjunction with the hormone, but it is really the effects of DHEA on a woman who is undergoing IVF that most people mean. As such, it may be more appropriate to consider the effects of DHEA on IVF response or success rather than on the procedure itself.
Among the possible effects of DHEA on IVF in women with diminished ovarian reserves are those such as increased egg production, improved egg quality, and fewer chromosome abnormalities. When used in conjunction with IVF, there is some evidence that the hormone may contribute to an increase in the number of fertilized eggs and higher IVF success rates. There is even some evidence that supplementation with this hormone may decrease a person's chances of miscarrying a chromosomally normal baby.
While a person can use over-the-counter DHEA supplements without a doctors approval, women are usually advised to seek a doctor's advice before getting started. This is particularly true when a woman is undergoing IVF. A doctor can provide information about any adverse effects it may cause, such as acne, and ensure that it won't interfere with the medications used during IVF.