What’s the Difference Between Pregnenolone and DHEA?

by | Jan 7, 2022

Considering giving your patients a pregnenolone or DHEA supplement?

Hormones are important for all aspects of our lives, and hormone therapy—BHRT or otherwise—can be a crucial part of supporting people’s health and well-being when they are struggling with hormone-related symptoms.

Both of these hormones are considered precursors that promote estrogen and testosterone production. But they also work on their own to support essential functions in the body.

Are you looking to expand your practice with hormonal health services? We can help—contact us today for a consultation.

The Benefits of DHEA Supplements

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) comes from pregnenolone, and the adrenal glands make both. It can help with the production of both estrogen and testosterone.

DHEA is involved in various bodily functions, including metabolism, blood sugar regulation, brain function, protecting against excess cortisol, and supporting immune function. A DHEA supplement offers an array of possible health benefits, including:

  • Treating depression
  • Improving libido
  • Reducing the risk of dementia
  • Boosting energy
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Improving mood and memory
  • Improving muscles and bones
  • Treating HPA axis disfunction
  • General anti-aging benefits

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) supplements, such as DHEA, are made from plant-based ingredients such as soy or yam. A patient can take these supplements orally or in a topical cream.

DHEA Supplement Dosing

DHEA is taken orally or put in a topical cream. Women usually start with 5-10mg. Men typically start at a higher dose or 25-50mg. Studies show that when used vaginally, DHEA can help with vaginal dryness and atrophy common in menopausal women.
About Pregnenolone

You may be wondering if you should administer pregnenolone supplements instead of DHEA supplements. Although these hormones are related, they serve different purposes. Consider each carefully before beginning a treatment plan.

Pregnenolone is linked to similar functions in the body as DHEA, including stress, sexual function, and brain activity.

Possible benefits of pregnenolone include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Less anxiety
  • Less fatigue
  • Reduce mood swings
  • Better concentration
  • Reduced andropause symptoms
  • Reduced menopause symptoms
  • Maintain weight / prevent weight gain

Pregnenolone is primarily responsible for producing DHEA and progesterone and is vital for regulating stress. It’s also important for aldosterone and testosterone production.

Pregnenolone as a Neurosteroid

As a neurosteroid, Pregnenolone can have specific benefits related to brain health. It can help with memory, emotions and even reduce sleep-related problems such as insomnia.

Suppose you have patients who have symptoms such as concentration and memory problems. In that case, if they have trouble concentrating on regular tasks, if they struggle with short- or long-term memory loss, this may be a hormone to consider as part of treatment.

Pregnenolone may also help with issues related to the central nervous system, emotional regulation, and GABA neurotransmitters. Its relationship to GABA may be behind its ability to reduce anxiety.

DHEA and Pregnenolone Tests

Testing for DHEA levels via a DHEA-sulfate serum test will offer information about how well the adrenals and HPA axis are functioning. Testing DHEA through saliva, serum, capillary blood spot, or saliva is also common. Both are routine tests in BHRT.

Some providers also check pregnenolone via serum in some patients.

Should You Offer a Pregnenolone or DHEA Supplement?


Hormone precursors such as pregnenolone or DHEA can be helpful for those facing hormone-related symptoms which impair their regular day-to-day lifestyle. Often, these symptoms are due to aging. BHRT can help relieve many of these symptoms and possibly even slow the aging process in the body.

Health practitioners seeking alternative care models should learn how to administer BHRT in the right way to offer patients the best chance at symptom relief and high quality of life.

Consider adding BHRT to your list of services—schedule a free strategy call.


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