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DHEA-sulfate test

Definition

DHEA-sulfate test measures the amount of DHEA-sulfate in the blood. DHEA-sulfate is a weak male hormone (androgen) produced by the adrenal gland in both men and women.

Alternative Names

Serum DHEA-sulfate; Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate test; DHEA-sulfate - serum

How the test is performed

A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture

How to prepare for the test

No special preparation is necessary. However, tell your health care provider if you are taking any vitamins or supplements that contain DHEA or DHEA-sulfate.

How the test will feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or sting. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed

This test is done to check the function of the adrenal glands. The adrenal gland is one of the major sources of androgens in women.

The DHEA-sulfate test is often done in women who have male body characteristics (virilism) or excessive hair growth (hirsutism). It is also done in children who are maturing too early (precocious puberty).

Normal Values

Normal blood levels of DHEA-sulfate can differ by sex and age.

Typical normal ranges for females are:

  • Ages 18 - 19: 145 - 395 ug/dL
  • Ages 20 - 29: 65 - 380 ug/dL
  • Ages 30 - 39: 45 - 270 ug/dL
  • Ages 40 - 49: 32 - 240 ug/dL
  • Ages 50 - 59: 26 - 200 ug/dL
  • Ages 60 - 69: 13 - 130 ug/dL
  • Ages 69 and older: 17 - 90 ug/dL

Typical normal ranges for males are:

  • Ages 18 - 19: 108 - 441 ug/dL
  • Ages 20 - 29: 280 - 640 ug/dL
  • Ages 30 - 39: 120 - 520 ug/dL
  • Ages 40 - 49: 95 - 530 ug/dL
  • Ages 50 - 59: 70 - 310 ug/dL
  • Ages 60 - 69: 42 - 290 ug/dL
  • Ages 69 and older: 28 - 175 ug/dL

Note: ug/dL = microgram per deciliter

The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some laboratories use different measurements or test different specimens.Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

An increase in DHEA-sulfate may be due to:

What the risks are

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Guber HA, Farag AF, Lo J, Sharp J. Evaluation of endocrine function. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: W.B. Saunders Company; 2006:chap 24.


Review Date: 6/4/2012
Reviewed By: Shehzad Topiwala, MD, Chief Consultant Endocrinologist, Premier Medical Associates, The Villages, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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