Aging Women, Testosterone, and DHEA


Many women are cautious about taking testosterone supplements. Others are either not aware or do not have access to information that explains the importance of such hormones since most mainstream doctors still deeply believe testosterone is a man’s hormone and women should not supplement with it. However, there is a growing abundance of scientific evidence showing testosterone does play a role in women’s health. Many of these ways are through natural supplements that a woman can take to increase her testosterone levels healthfully while maintaining optimal health into her later years.

While many have shown that exercise and resistance training can help to increase a man’s testosterone levels, studies have also shown that exercise can increase women’s testosterone levels, regardless of age.


In a 2001 study, researchers investigated how testosterone levels responded after resistance exercise in women [1]. The researchers noted that after merely six sets of repetitive motion squat exercises, the women experienced a significant increase in both free and total testosterone levels. The researchers concluded, “In young, healthy women, resistance exercise can induce transient increases in testosterone, and anthropometric markers of adiposity correlate with testosterone concentrations” [1]

In a 2002 study, researchers investigated the hormonal responses to endurance and resistance exercised in women between the ages of 19 and 69 [2]. The researchers noticed testosterone levels increased significantly, regardless of age or if the woman did endurance or resistance exercises. The researchers concluded, “Results indicate that an acute bout of exercise can increase concentrations of anabolic hormones in females across a wide age range” [2].

In a 2003 study, researchers investigated the acute hormonal responses of a high impact physical exercise session in early postmenopausal women [3]. The exercise period lasted just over an hour. The researchers noted DHEA-S increased by 10% immediately after exercise and remained increased for two hours later and free testosterone increased by almost 20% shortly after exercise and returned to baseline levels after two hours [3]. The researchers concluded, “In summary, this study showed that a single bout of exercise typically used in osteoporosis prevention programs could influence have an influence on hormones affecting bone metabolism” [3].

Similar to testosterone, DHEA is a hormone that has been long-recognized by natural health physicians to be essential for men and women alike. The adrenals secrete DHEA into the bloodstream. Then, it is converted to DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S).

Importance of DHEA

DHEA is a vital precursor for testosterone and estrogen, and like testosterone, DHEA levels peak in women in their early twenties and slowly decline by 10% every decade. In one study, researchers correlated the decline in DHEA production to an increased chance of many preventative diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis [4].

While it is normal for DHEA levels to decline slowly throughout one’s lifetime, in some individuals, DHEA levels will plummet early-on. Addison’s disease, or primary adrenal failure, occurs in 1 every 25,00 people, and without functioning adrenal glands, the body cannot produce several precursor hormones, including DHEA. Though, until recently, mainstream physicians did not think to replace DHEA in patients with Addison’s disease. Further, when physicians replaced specific hormones, like estrogen or testosterone, women still experienced persistent fatigue and depression.

In a 2000 randomized, double-blind trial, researchers investigated the effects of DHEA supplementation on mood and fatigue in patients with Addison’s disease [4]. After DHEA supplementation, the patient’s blood levels of DHEA rose above subnormal levels to the standard, health range of young adults. Also, the men and women in the study experienced improved mood, increased self-esteem, and decreased fatigue [4].

Even general adrenal insufficiency [the adrenal still secretes hormones, but at lower-than-normal levels] can cause a significant decrease in DHEA levels.

In a 1999 double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers investigated the effects of DHEA supplementation in women with adrenal insufficiency [5]. The researchers found that DHEA supplementation increased the serum concentrations of several hormones, including testosterone, into the normal range. Women also experienced a significantly increased frequency of sexual thoughts, sexual interest, and satisfaction with both mental and physical aspects of sexuality. The authors concluded, “Dehydroepiandrosterone [DHEA] improves well-being and sexuality in women with adrenal insufficiency” [5].

DHEA and Aging

Since DHEA decreases with age, scientists have proposed the though of using DHEA as an anti-aging hormone.

In a 1994 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers at Department of Reproductive Medicine, University of California School of Medicine investigated the effects of DHEA supplementation in men and women of advancing age [6].

Over the six-month study, the participants were given 50 mg per day of DHEA, then three months of placebo at bedtime in random order. Within two weeks of starting DHEA, the patients had attained DHEA blood levels of young adults. After three months on DHEA, 82% of the women and 67% of the men reported an increased sense of wellbeing, which included improved quality of sleep, less anxiety, increased energy, and enhanced ability to handle stress [6].

The researchers concluded, “These observations together with improvement of physical and psychological well-being in both genders and the absence of side-effects constitute the first demonstration of novel effects of DHEA replacement in age-advanced men and women" [6].

DHEA and Testosterone

Since DHEA is a precursor to testosterone, DHEA supplementation may be able to help raise testosterone levels in women of any age.

In a 1998 study, researchers investigated the effects of short-term, 100 mg per day supplementation of DHEA on postmenopausal women aged 52-56 [7]. The researchers found that after seven days of supplementation, testosterone levels were significantly increased [7].

In a 1999 randomized, placebo-controlled trial on sixty perimenopausal women, aged 45-55, examined the effect of DHEA supplementation on testosterone and other hormones over three months [8]. Again, the researchers found women in the DHEA group had a significant increase in testosterone, 94.8% compared to the placebo group [8].


In this article, we examined the importance of DHEA in women and how DHEA supplementation has been shown to combat the effects of aging on hormone production. Further, we discussed how, in several studies, exercising and DHEA supplementation increased testosterone production.

Check out Healthmasters’ DHEA supplement, and if you have questions about any of Healthmasters’ products, feel free to call our office at 800.726.1834.