Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is a male sex hormone (androgen) that is present in both men and women.
Plays a role in developing male secondary sexual characteristics at puberty.
Can be converted by the body into more potent androgens, such as testosterone and androstenedione.
Can be converted into the female hormone estrogen.
DHEAS is produced almost exclusively by the adrenal glands, with smaller amounts being produced by a woman’s ovaries and a man’s testicles.
It is useful as a marker for adrenal gland function. Adrenal tumors (cancerous and non-cancerous) and adrenal hyperplasia can lead to the overproduction of DHEAS. Rarely, an ovarian tumor may produce DHEAS.
May not be noticed in adult men.
Can cause early (precocious) puberty in young boys.
Can lead to absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea) and the development of masculine physical characteristics (virilization) in girls and women, such as excess body and facial hair (hirsutism).
Can cause a female baby to be born with genitals that are not distinctly male or female in appearance (ambiguous external genitalia).