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According to the American Pregnancy Association there are as many as six million women a year dealing with the emotional roller coaster of infertility. Many of these women turn to fertility treatment and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to help them get pregnant.
There may be new hope for those women receiving infertility treatment in the form of a naturally-occurring supplement found at your local pharmacy - DHEA, which is commonly taken as an anti-aging supplement.
DHEA, or 5- Dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone found in the brain and produced in the adrenal gland. It was discovered in 1934 and is believed to help balance hormones. DHEA is converted into estrogen in women, peaking at age 30, and declining with age.
Professor Adrian Shulman, director of the IVF Unit and Obstetric and Gynecology department from Tel Aviv University's Meir Medical Center has discovered a connection between DHEA and improved pregnancy rates of women receiving treatment for infertility.
Shulman conducted the first ever controlled study to investigate the correlation between increased fertility and DHEA. His findings, recently published in AYALA, the journal of the Israeli Fertility Association, found that women who were both receiving fertility treatment and were on the DHEA supplement were three times more likely to conceive.
Shulman used two groups of women with low ovulation; the first were given fertility treatment and the second group received fertility treatment and DHEA. The second group were given 75mg DHEA a day for 40 days prior to fertility treatment and for five months after their treatment.
The findings revealed that those women taking the fertility treatment and DHEA were more likely to conceive and that they were more likely to experience a healthier pregnancy and birth.
“In the DHEA group, there was a 23 percent live birth rate as opposed to a four percent rate in the control group,” Shulman explained. “Of the pregnancies in the DHEA group all but one ended in healthy deliveries. We need to look into what the drug actually does to make the body more fertile. It could be affecting components such as the quality of the eggs and follicles."