Aneuploidy is a term used to describe an abnormality of cell division where too few or too many chromosomes are present; aneuploidy is the cause of Down’s syndrome which is also called trisomy 21, and other birth defects which may or may not result in miscarriage. The risk of aneuploidy increases greatly with age and few strategies - aside from folic acid - have been shown to genuinely reduce risk.
Prior studies on DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) have demonstrated increased pregnancy rates and decreased miscarriage rates - by 50-80% - in women with diminished ovarian reserve. Inevitably this effect is thought to be due to a protective effect on cell division and chromosomes which could reduce the incidence of aneuploidy.
To test this theory researchers studied twenty two women with diminished ovarian reserve who were supplemented with DHEA prior to IVF and subsequently had pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) performed on their embryos to check for aneuploidy. Each women was matched to two similarly aged control also undergoing IVF and PGS.
Amazingly the DHEA supplementation was demonstrated to significantly decrease the number of aneuploid embryos. Interestingly DHEA supplementation was most effective when given for a very short time (four to twelve weeks) and the amount given was 25 mg three times a day which is similar to the dose used in previous studies. The researchers concluded that:
"Beneficial DHEA effects on DOR (diminished ovarian reserve) patients, at least partially, are the likely consequence of lower embryo aneuploidy. DHEA supplementation also deserves investigation in older fertile women, attempting to conceive, where a similar effect, potentially, could positively affect public health."
The researchers also noted that DHEA may benefit fertile patients conceiving naturally without ART/IVF and suggest that this could help by:
"...speeding up time to pregnancy and by reducing embryo aneuploidy and miscarriage rates."
If you choose to use DHEA there are some possible side-effects mainly limited to hirsutism but others are possible such as hair loss. Be sure to ask your physician first, this is a high dose and is best prescribed and supervised by a physician to ensure that you are using pure DHEA at a reliable dose.
This article is for purely informational purposes and is not intended to replace medical diagnosis or advice.
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Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) reduces embryo aneuploidy: direct evidence from preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) Norbert Gleicher, et al., Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2010, 8:140 doi:10.1186/1477-7827-8-140