What is DHEA, and is it a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), a steroid hormone, is similar to the male hormone testosterone. Both men and women secrete DHEA from the liver and adrenal glands. Men also secrete it from their testes. In fact, your body can even convert DHEA to testosterone.

You can buy an over-the-counter natural dietary supplement with DHEA, and this hormone does get into your system if you take it.

Men with erectile dysfunction (ED) often have low levels of DHEA, so there is understandably some interest in whether swallowing a DHEA pill will effectively treat your erection problem. I bet you want to know if it works, right? The answer is a qualified yes, especially if your ED is caused by low testosterone, rather than a circulatory problem. Studies show that when men with ED take DHEA pills for up to 24 weeks it may improve ED symptoms, allowing you to achieve orgasm, increase your libido, and have sexual satisfaction. But buyer beware! You need to use caution with this supplement. In spite of what you may read on the Internet, DHEA can have side effects. It may increase the risk of prostate cancer if you take it too long. It can lower your “good” HDL cholesterol, and since many men with ED have cardiovascular problems, this is not a smart tradeoff. Before you take DHEA, talk to your good doc first. If you get the green light to try DHEA, take a low dose, 25 to 50 milligrams (mg), and see if it works for you.

Continue Learning about Androgen

How effective is testosterone replacement therapy for the treatment of ED?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
Testosterone replacement therapy can improve sex drive and erectile function for some men with low t...
More Answers
What should I know before using testosterone replacement therapy?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
Testosterone may cause enlargement of the prostate or make it worse. If you have impaired heart fun...
More Answers
What is androgen suppression?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
Androgen suppression is a treatment to suppress or block the production or action of male hormones. ...
More Answers
Can I trust testosterone replacement therapy from online sources?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
Testosterone replacement therapy is offered at many websites online. An evaluation of 75 of these we...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.