The hormone pregnenolone causes the body to produce many other hormones, such as testosterone, estrogen, cortisone and DHEA. Many people also take DHEA supplements to regain youthful levels of these steroid hormones. According to the Langone Medical Center at New York University, supplementing with extra pregnenolone may not cause the body to produce more of the hormones to which pregnenolone is the precursor. Pregenenolone turns into DHEA and other hormones through a natural process that uses cholesterol in the blood.
Talk to your doctor before taking pregnenolone or DHEA. These supplements are potent and can have severe side effects, including hair loss, breast swelling and liver damage. According to the Langone Medical Center at New York University, pregnenolone may also decrease the effectiveness of benzodiazepine drugs, such as Xanax and Valium.
Take DHEA separately from pregnenolone until you know how each hormone affects you. Take a reduced dose of DHEA while taking pregnenolone, after you've determined your body's reaction to each substance. Reduce your DHEA dose by an amount equal to your dose of pregnenolone.
Stop taking pregnenolone and call your doctor if you develop a hormonal imbalance with side effects such as insomnia, acne, anxiety, bad mood and irregular heart beat. Seek emergency medical care if you have an allergic reaction to DHEA or pregnenolone, with symptoms such as itching, swollen throat or difficulty breathing.
Read the label of any DHEA or pregnenolone supplement you consider taking. According to physician and medical writer Dr. Ray Sahelian, many supplement makers use an ingredient called diosgenin that converts to pregnenolone and DHEA in lab tests but not in the human body. Ensure that your supplement lists “DHEA” or “pregnenolone” as the only ingredient.
Stop supplementing with pregnenolone or DHEA for a short time to allow your hormone levels to return to their natural levels. If you've found these supplements to help with your mood, eyesight or energy level, take only a small amount to boost your natural levels slightly since many long-term effects may remain unknown.
Inform any sports league you may belong to before supplementing with DHEA because several leagues have banned this substance, including the National Football League and the International Olympic Committee.
Avoid DHEA, pregnenolone and other steroid supplements if you are under 40 years of age and you have normal levels of these hormones. Supplementing could create an excess in your body.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, DHEA may interact with barbiturates, corticosteroids, estrogen and the HIV drug zidovudine. DHEA may also cause insulin resistance and lower the effectiveness of diabetes drugs.