Most of us have heard of a variety of hormones: progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and many others. But have you ever heard about pregnenolone? This hormone plays a very important role in the production of many other substances in your body, including sex hormones. And although it’s not usual to get your pregnenolone levels tested, this blood test could be used in the diagnosis of certain diseases.
Keep reading to learn more about pregnenolone and what your normal levels should be.
What is pregnenolone?
According to USADA, pregnenolone is a hormone that is naturally produced by the human body in the adrenal or suprarenal glands. Pregnenolone is synthesized from cholesterol, and it serves as a precursor of different hormones, including:
Since pregnenolone works as a precursor to these hormones, it’s often referred to as a “pro-hormone”. On its own, pregnenolone also plays a role in the nervous system.
It has been claimed that pregnenolone can be used as an antiaging or hormone replacement supplement. Some of these supplements may be sold under false claims, such as marketing pregnenolone as a cure for cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases. Using pregnenolone for these conditions could lead to hormone imbalance and complications.
However, it should be noted that pregnenolone isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration for these uses. You should always check with your doctor before trying out a new supplement or medication, since it could lead to unwanted side effects or interact with other medications you’re taking.
Optimal pregnenolone levels
Testing for pregnenolone isn’t part of routine laboratory tests, but your healthcare provider could order a pregnenolone blood test under certain circumstances.
According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnenolone blood test results can be used in the diagnosis of several rare diseases, including congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a group of congenital diseases that affect the functioning of the adrenal glands.
Normal pregnenolone levels by gender and age are:
- Men: 10-200 ng/dL
- Women: 10-230 ng/dL
- Children: 10-48 ng/dL
- Teenage boys: 10-50 ng/dL
- Teenage girls: 15-84 ng/dL
What causes high pregnenolone levels?
High pregnenolone levels can be caused by congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). CAH causes enzyme deficiencies that make it more difficult for your body to turn pregnenolone into other hormones, which leads to elevated pregnenolone levels.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, CAH and high pregnenolone symptoms can include:
- Poor feeding in babies
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
- Low blood sugar
- Low blood sodium
- Low blood pressure
- Weight loss
- Irregular periods
- Fertility problems
- Genital abnormalities
What causes low pregnenolone levels?
Pregnenolone levels naturally decrease as you get older, but you should still maintain some pregnenolone production as a senior. Otherwise, it could lead to hormone imbalances, since there won’t be enough pro-hormone to synthesize other hormones, such as testosterone or cortisol.
Some of the symptoms of low pregnenolone levels can include:
- Low libido
- Concentration problems
- Impaired memory
- Bone density loss
- Decreased muscle mass
You can learn more about many other health topics — including sexual and reproductive health, STDs, and STD testing — at STDWatch.com.
Pregnenolone: What You Need to Know - usada.org
TEST ID : PREGN - mayocliniclabs.com
What are the symptoms of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)? - nichd.nih.gov