Q:

What is a low DHEA-sulfate level?

A:

DHEA-sulfate is a hormone whose blood levels differ by age and sex, according to MedlinePlus. For a female between the ages of 18 and 19, normal DHEA-sulfate levels range between 145 and 395 micrograms per deciliter. In the same age range for a male, normal values are between 108 and 441 micrograms per deciliter. Values less than these may be considered low.

The DHEA-sulfate test measures the amount of DHEA-sulfate in the blood and is done by taking a sample of blood from the patient. DHEA-sulfate is one of several androgens, or male hormones, that the adrenal gland produces. A lower level than expected may indicate problems with the adrenal or pituitary glands.

At birth, DHEA-sulfate levels are high in both males and females. The level drops quickly after birth and doesn't rise again until puberty. Levels peak after puberty and decline with increasing age.

DHEA-sulfate tests are ordered to examine the function of the adrenal gland and to distinguish conditions that originate from the adrenal glands versus the testes or ovaries. They are used to detect conditions such as adrenocortical tumors, congenital or adult-onset adrenal hyperplasia, and adrenal cancers. They are also used to investigate and rule out other causes of conditions such as hirsutism, amenorrhea and infertility and to determine the causes of early puberty in young boys and virulization in young girls.


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