At a Glance
Why Get Tested?
To determine the DHEAS level in the blood; to help evaluate adrenal gland function; to detect adrenal tumours including cancers; to help determine the cause of virilisation in females or early puberty in boys.
When to Get Tested?
When a woman has excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), acne, amenorrhoea, or infertility; when a male child is undergoing very early (precocious) puberty or a female child is showing signs of virilisation.
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm.
Test Preparation Needed?
None needed, although certain medications, particularly corticosteroids or oestrogen supplements, may affect the level of DHEAS in the blood. Your doctor may recommend that you continue these medications but may notify the laboratory that you are taking them.
The Test Sample
What is being tested?
Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is an androgen, a male sex hormone that is present in the blood of both men and women. It has a role to play in developing male secondary sexual characteristics at puberty, and it can be metabolised by the body into stronger androgens, such as testosterone and androstenedione, or can be converted into the female hormone oestrogen. DHEAS is produced by the adrenal cortex, the outer layer of the adrenal glands, with smaller amounts being produced by a woman's ovaries and man's testes
DHEAS is useful as a marker for adrenal function. Adrenal tumours, including cancers, and adrenal hyperplasia can lead to the overproduction of DHEAS. While elevated levels may not be noticed in adult men, in women they can lead to amenorrhoea and visible symptoms of virilisation.
Excess levels of DHEAS in children can cause precocious puberty in boys and ambiguous external genitalia, excess body hair, and abnormal menstrual periods in girls.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed although certain medications, particularly corticosteroids or oestrogen supplements, may affect the level of DHEAS in the blood. Your doctor may recommend that you continue these medications but may notify the laboratory that you are taking them.
Ask a Laboratory Scientist
NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.