Serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) was measured in 32 infertility patients who were found to be ovulatory, in 37 women with oligomenorrhea, and in 52 hirsute patients under basal conditions. It was also measured in conjunction with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation and dexamethasone suppression in 10 of the hirsute women. Serum DHEAS levels were elevated in only 19% of the infertile women with regular ovulation, in 34% of the oligomenorrheic patients, and in 60% of the hirsute women. Of the C-19 steroids (androgens) measured in the 52 hirsute women, ie, total and unbound serum testosterone (T), androstenedione (A), and DHEAS, unbound serum T was most frequently elevated. Eighty-two percent of the hirsute women had either an elevated serum DHEAS level or an increased unbound T level, suggesting 1) that elevations in unbound serum T may be associated with or result from increased serum DHEAS levels and 2) that only a minority of women with so-called idiopathic hirsutism do not have demonstrable androgen excess. Three of 10 hirsute women with elevated serum DHEAS levels had an increased ACTH-induced rise in DHEAS. Dexamethasone given as a single daily dose of 0.5 mg at bedtime resulted in a marked decrease in serum DHEAS in all of the 10 hirsute patients tested within 2 weeks of therapy. Thus, serum DHEAS is a clinically useful indication of adrenal C-19 steroid secretion. When combined with clinical and other hormonal evaluations, its measurement adds an important dimension to the study of gynecologic endocrinology and infertility.
© 1981 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists