Few side effects are reported when DHEA supplements are taken by mouth in
recommended doses. Side effects may include fatigue, nasal congestion, headache,
acne, or rapid/irregular heartbeats. In women, the most common side effects are
abnormal menses, emotional changes, headache, and insomnia. Individuals with a
history of abnormal heart rhythms, blood clots or hypercoagulability, and those
with a history of liver disease, should avoid DHEA supplements.
Because DHEA is a hormone related to other male and female hormones, there
may be side effects related to its hormonal activities. For example,
masculinization may occur in women, including acne, greasy skin, facial hair,
hair loss, increased sweating, weight gain around the waist, or a deeper voice.
Likewise, men may develop more prominent breasts (gynecomastia), breast
tenderness, increased blood pressure, testicular wasting, or increased
aggressiveness. Other hormonal-related side effects may include increased blood
sugar levels, insulin resistance, altered cholesterol levels, altered thyroid
hormone levels, and altered adrenal function. Caution is advised in patients
with diabetes or hyperglycemia, high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, or other
endocrine (hormonal) abnormalities. Serum glucose, cholesterol and thyroid
levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare professional, and medication
adjustments may be necessary.
In theory, DHEA may increase the risk of developing prostate, breast, or
ovarian cancer. DHEA may contribute to tamoxifen resistance in breast cancer.
Other side effects may include insomnia, agitation, delusions, mania,
nervousness, irritability, or psychosis.
High DHEA levels have been correlated with Cushing's syndrome, which may be
caused by excessive supplementation