Can DHEA Supplementation Help During Fertility Treatments?

DHEA and Poor Ovarian Response

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) exists to help couples or individuals conceive who have struggled with doing so in the past. And while these technologies have helped many who otherwise might not have been able to have happy, healthy babies,  ART is not always fool proof.

 

During IVF and similar ART treatments, sometimes a woman’s body doesn’t quite respond in exactly the way her fertility specialist intended. In the world of reproductive endocrinologists, this is deemed “Poor Ovarian Response,” or when the ovaries don’t respond in the expected fashion to typical hormonal protocols. While there is yet to be one solid definition for  Poor Ovarian Response, and exact factors leading to this issue are yet unknown, it is closely associated with maternal age, and diminished ovarian reserve (which can, in fact, occur at any age). Poor ovarian response is estimated to affect between 9-24% of women undergoing ART procedures, depending on which criteria your doctors choose for diagnosis.
DHEA and Poor Ovarian ResponseSo what can you do when you are deemed to have poor ovarian response? In an effort to elucidate this, a group of scientists gathered together many recent studies, collecting data from 21 studies with over 1,000 patients diagnosed with poor ovarian response while undergoing ART treatments. These studies focused on the use of DHEA supplementation to help counteract poor ovarian response. The researchers who gathered all the data were able to find a pervading pattern through all of the studies: the patients who used DHEA during their ART treatments– an increased rate of clinical pregnancy rate. Furthermore, these studies also found that DHEA supplementation could aid in the following:

  • Increased Live Birth Rate
  • Increased Implantation Rate
  • Increased Antral Follicle Count
  • Increased Oocyte (egg cell) numbers & Anti-Mullerian levels
  • Decreased Miscarriage Rate

 

While we can all hope that this topic continues to be studied further, at the moment the data speaks loud and clear: DHEA supplementation may be a wonderful adjunct for women struggling with Poor Ovarian Response.

References

Zhang M1, Niu W1, Wang Y2, Xu J1, Bao X1, Wang L1, Du L1, Sun Y3. Dehydroepiandrosterone treatment in women with poor ovarian response undergoing IVF or ICSI: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2016 Aug;33(8):981-91. PMID: 27094195. [PubMed] [Read by QxMD]
Tarlatzis BC1, Zepiridis L, Grimbizis G, Bontis J. Clinical management of low ovarian response to stimulation for IVF: a systematic review. Hum Reprod Update. 2003 Jan-Feb;9(1):61-76. PMID: 12638782. [PubMed] [Read by QxMD]

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