Trying to get pregnant can be a whirlwind of a journey to say the least. It can feel especially hard when dealing with fertility issues, such as diminished ovarian reserve. Or, if you’ve been struggling to conceive for a while, you may be embarking on the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), and wondering how you can increase your fertility levels for the best outcome. One supplement known to aid in fertility troubles is DHEA, aka dehydroepiandrosterone, a hormone that helps with the regulation and production of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. There are a variety of DHEA benefits for women attempting to get pregnant, so let’s unpack them!
What is DHEA?
If you’ve never heard of DHEA before, you might be surprised to learn that it’s a naturally occurring hormone in the body that’s produced by our adrenal glands. But if our bodies already produce DHEA, why would we need more? Well, as we age, our levels of DHEA decrease rapidly. This reduction in DHEA usually begins in our mid-20’s, right around the time many people start considering their futures in regards to having children. When attempting to have children in their late 30’s to early 40’s, some people run into fertility issues due to hormone imbalances, or diminished egg supply. That’s where DHEA comes into help.
Benefits of DHEA
Increased Ovarian Health
When taken as a supplement to aid in fertility, DHEA supports ovarian health as it’s converted into testosterone. The extra testosterone helps support the growth of more egg cells within the ovaries.
Supports Positive IVF Outcomes
DHEA supplements are especially beneficial for women entering an IVF cycle, as IVF requires multiple eggs to be harvested from the ovaries at once in the hopes of creating a viable embryo outside of the body that can later be implanted into the uterus. As DHEA encourages healthy egg cells, it helps improve the quality of eggs available to harvest for IVF.
Quicker Pregnancy Results
As DHEA promotes the production of healthier eggs, it can help those who take it get pregnant sooner. The healthier your eggs are, the easier it is for fertilization to occur.
Lower Miscarriage Rates
DHEA works to regulate egg cell production and replication, as such, it aids in decreasing the odds of chromosomal abnormalities, known as aneuploidy, that can result in spontaneous miscarriages.
Increased Chances of Spontaneous Conception
Spontaneous conception occurs when a child is naturally conceived after initially having a child through IVF, or other forms of assisted reproductive technology. Studies have shown that DHEA treatment prior to IVF has led to a number of recurrent spontaneous pregnancies.
Supplements to Take in Tandem with DHEA
DHEA can be combined with a variety of other supplements and vitamins that are known to increase fertility for a greater benefit to ovarian health overall. Here are some of the most common supplements recommended to incorporate to your fertility regime along with DHEA.
- CoQ10 – CoQ10, or Coenzyme Q10, is an antioxidant that occurs naturally in the body, just like DHEA. Coenzyme Q10 is essential for proper cell replication and differentiation. This process of cell division is especially important in the reproductive organs, as it ensures egg cells free of chromosomal abnormalities that could decrease the chance of a successful pregnancy. Also similar to DHEA, our levels of natural CoQ10 start to decrease in our mid-20’s, so adding it as a supplement can help to ensure overall reproductive health in women trying to get pregnant in their mid 30’s to early 40’s, or for women who struggle with fertility.
- Prenatal Vitamins – Doctors often recommend that women who are trying to get pregnant take a prenatal vitamin to ensure their body is filled with all the nutrients needed to support the growth of a healthy fetus. Some of these vitamins include:
- Calcium – Helps to keep a mother’s bones strong while supporting the growth of strong bones in the baby.
- Folate – Encourages proper brain development in early pregnancy and discourages potential neural tube abnormalities.
- Choline – Supports fetal brain development and serves to synthesize important neurotransmitters needed for proper brain function.
- Iron – Helps to carry oxygen to growing babies during pregnancy.
- Vitamin B6 – Supports a variety of bodily mechanisms in babies during pregnancy including proper immune system function, brain development, and metabolism.
- Vitamin D3 & K2 – These vitamins work together to maintain bone health and density throughout pregnancy, and also support proper hormonal function needed to conceive.
When considering what supplements to take to potentially enhance your fertility, it’s essential to do your research and talk with a healthcare provider to figure out what supplements are right for you. DHEA is a supplement shown to enhance female fertility. Whether you combine it with other fertility supplements like CoQ10 and prenatal vitamins, or take it on its own, DHEA is a great supplement to aid in your reproductive health.