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DHEA – Could Your Dietary Supplement be Causing Hair Loss?

Bodybuilder bald head The Belgravia CentreFor decades, doctors and health professionals have been advising the British public of the importance of exercise and diet, an instruction taken much more seriously by some than others.

Working out certainly improves general health but in some circumstances exercise can actually contribute to hair loss particularly when combined with steroids such as DHEA.

What is DHEA?

Popular with bodybuilders, weightlifters and athletes the world over, dehydroepiandrosterone (or DHEA for short) is a steroid hormone used primarily to build muscle mass. DHEA has a number of additional properties which see it prescribed for conditions where low testosterone levels are a problem. These additional uses include increasing muscle strength in elderly people, treating infertility in women and increasing wellbeing.

According to the Medicines and Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the medical watchdog for the United Kingdom, DHEA is a medicine and therefore bound by the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971. Despite this classification however, DHEA is widely available in the UK from online pharmacies where it is sold as a dietary supplement, fertility treatment or as a way of improving skin appearance.

How does DHEA affect my hair?

Despite being useful for treating certain conditions and great for building muscle bulk, as a steroid DHEA has a significant effect on the body’s hormonal balance. Hormones regulate many bodily functions including hair growth.

The condition known as male pattern baldness (or androgenic alopecia to give it its proper name) is precipitated by the male hormone testosterone being converted into an androgen called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Although this sounds harmless enough, DHT can inhibit the growth of new hair cells by causing follicles in the scalp to shrink. Over time the follicles shrink to such a degree that new hair no longer grows from them. As more and more follicles shrink, hair loss becomes more and more noticeable.

Ultimately, anything which raises the levels of testosterone within the body, increases the risk of accelerating the onset and development of androgenic alopecia. The more testosterone in the bloodstream, the greater the chance it will be converted into DHT and hair follicles adversely affected. Weightlifting-type exercises are known to raise testosterone levels naturally, DHEA use further increases that production.

Persons using DHEA for body building purposes therefore face a greater risk of experiencing hair loss at some stage than their non-steroid using counterparts.

Is there anything else?

Because it assists in building muscle bulk and overall athletic ability, DHEA is banned for use by athletes under the World Anti-Doping Code. Several sportsmen in the USA, particularly basketball players, have served lengthy bans in recent years for use of DHEA.

DHEA is also believed to increase the likelihood of women experiencing facial hair growth, menstrual cycle disruptions and deepening voices. As a result women using DHEA are encouraged to restrict use to short periods and at lower doses.

However, DHEA is also produced naturally by the human body, particularly through regular exercise. Some scientists have observed that natural DHEA levels increase in people who restrict their calorie intake, suggesting that certain diets may also affect hormone levels.

What can I do?

If you are using DHEA for bodybuilding purposes, it is advisable that you regulate your intake, taking several weeks “off” between courses. By cycling your DHEA usage in this way, the chances of causing long-term hormonal imbalance, and the health issues associated with it, are reduced. Users of DHEA who cycle their doses are also less likely to experience hair loss related to the hormone.

If hairloss is a concern, specialists recommend a change in focus from bulk-building exercises to more aerobic-style activities. By doing this, natural production of testosterone will be lessened, providing less opportunity for the production of DHT. Less DHT means less chance of developing androgenic alopecia.

More on Androgenic Alopecia

Regardless of exercise regime, men particularly are prone to developing Androgenic Alopecia over time.  As many as fifty per cent of men experience hair loss by the age of fifty. Although a perfectly natural condition, Androgenic Alopecia can now be treated with a high degree of success.

For men experiencing Androgenic Alopecia naturally, or following the use of DHEA, Propecia has a proven track record of slowing hair loss and encouraging regrowth. Propecia, or more specifically its active ingredient Finasteride, inhibits the formation of DHT which then prevents hair follicles from entering the resting phase, the underlying cause of the hair loss.

Androgenic Alopecia is not restricted to men however. Women experiencing female pattern balding cannot however use Propecia because it is licensed only for use by men. Fortunately an alternative medication, known as Minoxidil has been proven to encourage hair regrowth in both men and women. Both Minoxidil and Propecia are licensed by the MHRA

Minoxidil is believed to encourage blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles which helps ensure important nutrients are delivered directly to the hair root. This means the patient’s hair receives everything it needs to continue growing healthily.

Beyond Medication

Although Minoxidil and Propecia are both proven to slow hair loss and encourage regrowth, several other complementary treatments exist to help in the process. Here at The Belgravia Centre we create a personalised treatment plan for every client to ensure maximum chance of hair regrowth.

Contact us for an initial consultation or fill in our online diagnostic form. Your tailored treatment plan can be sent to you wherever you are in the world. It can include Minoxidil, Propecia and other supplements unique to The Belgravia Centre.  Our Hair Vitalics dietary supplement and  the FDA-cleared LaserComb are both used to supplement pharmaceutical treatments.

The Belgravia Centre is the UK’s leading hair loss clinic and our expert clinicians have treated a wide variety of hair loss conditions. Whether you are experiencing hair loss as a result of using DHEA, or for any other reason, our experts will be able to create a personalised plan to help restore your hair line. Please see our customer success stories to find out more about what we do and what our clients think of our service.

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23rd August, 2012 at 4:28 pm


This is my first time go to see at here and i am genuinely happy to read everthing at single place.

5th August, 2016 at 6:26 pm


Think I finally found out why my hair is falling out..25mg of DHEA for many years. High testosterone levels. Now I know to stay away from it. Thank you so much for this article.

13th November, 2017 at 1:18 pm


Saw Palmetto and Pumpkin Seed Oil are also known to suppress DHT.

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