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6 July 2010
DHEA increases fertility threefold, suggests study

An anti-aging supplement available from drugstores can boost female fertility dramatically, say researchers at Tel Aviv University. The link between the over-the-counter vitamin supplement DHEA, used to counter the effects of aging, and successful pregnancy rates in women undergoing treatment for infertility, is significant says researcher Adrian Shulman.

In the first controlled study on the effects of the supplement, Shulman found that women being treated for infertility who also received supplements of DHEA were three times more likely to conceive than women being treated without the additional drug. The results have been published in the Israeli fertility journal AYALA.

Shulman's study involved a control group of women who received treatment for poor ovulation, and another group received the same treatment with the addition of the DHEA supplement. The latter group took 75mg of the supplement daily for 40 days before starting fertility treatments, and continued for up to five months.

Not only were women who combined infertility treatment with DHEA more likely to conceive, the researchers discovered, they were also more likely to experience a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

"In the DHEA group, there was a 23 percent live birth rate as opposed to a 4 percent rate in the control group," noted Shulman. "More than that, of the pregnancies in the DHEA group, all but one ended in healthy deliveries."

Shulman believes that women who are finding little success with their current fertility treatments could look to DHEA to improve their chances of conceiving. "We recommend that women try this DHEA treatment, in conjunction with fertility treatments, for four to five months," says Shulman.

Shulman hopes that further research will unlock the secrets of why the supplement aids in successful conception in women with an otherwise poor response to fertility treatments. "We need to look into what the drug actually does to make the body more fertile," he says. "It could be affecting components such as the quality of the eggs or the follicles."

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a naturally-occurring steroid found in the brain which plays an important biological role in humans. Produced in the adrenal glands, it is also synthesized in the brain. Women interested in using DHEA to conceive, however, should consult their practitioner first, suggests Shulman.

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Source: Tel Aviv University

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