The Test Sample
What is being tested?
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.
- 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.
- 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.