A randomized, controlled, pilot trial on the effect of dehydroepiandrosterone on ovarian response markers, ovarian response, and in vitro fertilization outcomes in poor responders

Fertil Steril. 2014 Jul;102(1):108-115.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.03.044. Epub 2014 May 3.


Objective: To evaluate whether pretreatment dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation improves ovarian response markers, ovarian response to standard low-dose gonadotropin stimulation, and in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes in poor responders.

Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study.

Setting: Tertiary reproductive medicine unit.

Patient(s): Thirty-two women with anticipated poor ovarian response.

Intervention(s): Randomization into DHEA group (n=16) receiving GNC (25 mg three times a day) or placebo (n=16) starting from at least 12 weeks before the scheduled IVF treatment according to a computer-generated randomization list.

Main outcome measure(s): Measurement of monthly ovarian response markers, including antral follicle count (AFC), serum antimüllerian hormone (AMH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels; comparison of ovarian response to a standard dose of gonadotropin stimulation at week 8 and IVF outcomes; and AFC after 12 weeks (primary outcome).

Result(s): The DHEA supplementation resulted in statistically significantly higher serum DHEA-S, free androgen index, and follicular DHEA-S levels. No statistically significant differences in the ovarian response markers (AFC, AMH, or FSH), the ovarian response to standard-dose gonadotropin stimulation, or IVF outcomes were found between the two groups.

Conclusion(s): No statistically significant improvement in ovarian response markers, ovarian response to standard dose gonadotropin stimulation, or IVF outcomes was found in poor responders receiving pretreatment DHEA.

Clinical trial registration number: HKCTR-1149 (www.hkclinicaltrials.com) and NCT01915186 (www.ClinicalTrials.org).

Keywords: DHEA; in vitro fertilization; ovarian response markers; poor responders.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / administration & dosage
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / administration & dosage*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / adverse effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Fertility / drug effects*
  • Fertility Agents, Female / administration & dosage*
  • Fertility Agents, Female / adverse effects
  • Fertilization in Vitro*
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone, Human / blood
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Infertility / blood
  • Infertility / physiopathology
  • Infertility / therapy*
  • Menotropins / administration & dosage
  • Ovary / drug effects*
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Ovary / physiopathology
  • Ovulation Induction / adverse effects
  • Ovulation Induction / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin
  • Fertility Agents, Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone, Human
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Menotropins
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01915186