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Alternative NamesSerum DHEA-sulfate; dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate
Definition Return to top
DHEA-sulfate blood test measures the amount of DHEA-sulfate in the blood.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The puncture site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
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 Return to top
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 Return to top
This test is used to evaluate the function of the adrenal glands. DHEA-sulfate is a weak male hormone (androgen) produced by the adrenal gland in both men and women. The adrenal gland is one of the major sources of androgens in women (the other being the ovaries, which produce testosterone).
DHEA-sulfate is measured in women showing symptoms of male body characteristics (virilism) or excessive hair growth (hirsutism). It is also done in children who are maturing too early (precocious puberty).
Normal Results Return to top
Normal values for serum DHEA sulfate can differ by sex and age.
Typical normal ranges for females are:
Typical normal ranges for males are:
Note: ug/dL = microgram per deciliter
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
An increase in DHEA-sulfate may indicate:
Risks Return to top
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:
References Return to top
Guber HA, Farag AF, Lo J, Sharp J. Evaluation of Endocrine Function. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR. McPherson & Pincus: Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. Philadelphia, Pa:W. B. Saunders Company;2006:chap 24.Update Date: 6/17/2008 Updated by: Elizabeth H. Holt, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Yale University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.