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DHEAS

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Also known as: DHEA-SO4; DHEA Sulfate
Formal name: Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To help evaluate adrenal gland function; to detect adrenal tumors or cancers; to help determine the cause of masculine physical characteristics (virilization) in girls and women or early puberty in boys

When to Get Tested?

When a girl or woman has excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), acne, absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea), or a woman has infertility; when a boy shows signs of very early (precocious) puberty such as deeper voice, pubic hair, or muscle development

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?

None, although women should talk to their health practitioner about the timing of the test; your healthcare provider may want to have the sample collected a week before or after your menstrual period.

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Thumbnail diagram of the adrenal gland

Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is a male sex hormone (androgen) that is present in both men and women. This test measures the level of DHEAS in the blood.

DHEAS:

  • Plays a role in developing male secondary sexual characteristics at puberty
  • Can be converted by the body into more potent androgens, such as testosterone and androstenedione
  • Can be converted into the female hormone estrogen

DHEAS is produced almost exclusively by the adrenal glands, with smaller amounts being produced by a woman's ovaries and a man's testicles.

It is useful as a marker for adrenal gland function. Adrenal tumors (cancerous and non-cancerous) and adrenal hyperplasia can lead to the overproduction of DHEAS. Rarely, an ovarian tumor may produce DHEAS.

Excess DHEAS:

  • May not be noticed in adult men
  • Can cause early (precocious) puberty in young boys
  • Can lead to absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea) and the development of masculine physical characteristics (virilization) in girls and women, such as excess body and facial hair (hirsutism)
  • Can cause a female baby to be born with genitals that are not distinctly male or female in appearance (ambiguous external genitalia)

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.

NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.

Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed. Women should talk to their health practitioner about the timing of the test. The healthcare provider may want to have the sample collected a week before or after a woman's menstrual period.

The Test

Common Questions

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Article Sources

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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.

Sources Used in Current Review

Topiwala, S. (Updated 2014 April 28). DHEA-sulfate test. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003717.htm through http://www.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed September 2014.

(© 1995–2014). Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEA-S), Serum. Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Overview/8493 through http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com. Accessed September 2014.

Elhomsy, G. and Griffing, G. (Updated 2012 September 10). Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Sulfate. Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2088893-overview#showall through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed September 2014.

Wayne, M. and Miller, C. (Updated 2014 February). Amenorrhea. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/Amenorrhea.html?client_ID=LTD#tabs=0 through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed September 2014.

Lucidi, R. (Updated 2013 November 11). Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/256806-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed September 2014.

Kaplowitz, P. (Updated 2013 February 11). Precocious Puberty. Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/924002-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed September 2014.

Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2011). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 10th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 63-64.

Clarke, W., Editor (© 2011). Contemporary Practice in Clinical Chemistry 2nd Edition: AACC Press, Washington, DC. Pg 474.

Rao LV, Pechet L, Jenkins A, et al. (2011). in Wallach's Interpretation of Diagnostic Tests. Williamson MA, Snyder LM, eds. Chapter 2 - Laboratory Tests: DEHYDROEPIANDROSTERONE SULFATE, SERUM (DHEA-SULFATE).  Lippincott Williams & Wilkins: Philadelphia.

Sources Used in Previous Reviews

Thomas, Clayton L., Editor (1997). Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, PA [18th Edition].

Pagana, Kathleen D. & Pagana, Timothy J. (2001). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 5th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO.

Ribeiro, R.C., et.al. (2000 October). Adrenocortical tumors in children. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, International Adrenocortical Tumor Registry [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.stjude.org/ipactr/reference_treatment_16.htm through http://www.stjude.org.

Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate, Serum. RUP's Guide to Clinical Laboratory Testing (CLT) [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.aruplab.com/guides/clt/tests/clt_a178.htm through http://www.aruplab.com.

A.D.A.M., Inc. Updated (2002 May 17, Updated). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. MEDLINEplus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000411.htm.

Ruppe, M. Updated (2003 January 10). DHEA-sulfate. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003717.htm.

Bradley, C. (2002 February 4). Ovarian overproduction of androgens. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001165.htm.

Sadovsky, R. (2001 December 15). Androgen Deficiency in Women: Review of the Subject. American Family Physician, Tips from Other Journals [On-line Journal, Information from Miller, KA. Androgen deficiency in women. J. Clin Endrocrinol Metab 2001;86:2395-401]. Available online at http://www.aafp.org/afp/20011215/tips/6.html through http://www.aafp.org.

Alberta Clinical Practice Guidelines Steering Committee (2001 June, Revised). Laboratory Endocrine Testing Guidelines. Alberta Medical Association [On-line guidelines]. Available online at http://www.albertadoctors.org/resources/endocrinology.html through http://www.albertadoctors.org.

Lobo, R. and Carmina, E. (2000 June 20). The Importance of Diagnosing the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Annals of Internal Medicine 2000;132:989-993 [On-line Journal]. Available online at http://www.annals.org/issues/v132n12/full/200006200-00010.html through http://www.annals.org.

Adrenal Gland Disorders. The Merck Manual of Medical Information--Home Edition, Section 13. Hormonal Disorders, Chapter 146 [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/mmanual_home/sec13/146.jsp through http://www.merck.com.

Pagana, Kathleen D. & Pagana, Timothy J. (© 2007). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 8th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 64-65.

Clarke, W. and Dufour, D. R., Editors (2006). Contemporary Practice in Clinical Chemistry, AACC Press, Washington, DC. Cook, J. Chapter 33 Adrenal Disorders, Pp 375-385.

Wu, A. (2006). Tietz Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests, Fourth Edition. Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis, Missouri. Pp 334-339.

Hurd, R. (2006 October 25). DHEA-sulfate - serum. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003717.htm. Accessed on 7/21/07.

(© 1995-2010). Unit Code 8493: Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate (DHEA-S), Serum. Mayo Clinic, Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Overview/8493 through http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com. Accessed December 2010.

Yahya Abdel-Rahman, M. et. al. (2010 August 5). Androgen Excess. eMedicine Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/273153-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed December 2010.

Meikle, W. and Roberts, W. (Updated 2010 June). Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/PCOS.html?client_ID=LTD#tabs=0 through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed December 2010.

Meikle, W. et. al. (Updated 2010 April). Amenorrhea. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/Amenorrhea.html#tabs=0 through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed December 2010.

Eckman,A. (Updated 2010 April 20). DHEA-sulfate test. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003717.htm. Accessed December 2010.

Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2011). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 10th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 63-64.

Clarke, W. and Dufour, D. R., Editors (2006). Contemporary Practice in Clinical Chemistry, AACC Press, Washington, DC, Pp 381-382.

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