What Hormones are Androgens?
Chemical balance keeps our bodies running in harmony; hormones play an essential part in maintaining this delicate equilibrium; one such group of hormones, known as androgens, takes center stage in this fascinating show of nature.
In this article, we dive deep into the world of androgens to examine their power and significance within our bodies.
Androgens are hormones associated with male traits but can be present both sexes at differing amounts. Testosterone, one of the best-known androgens, not only impacts physical features such as muscle mass and facial hair growth but is also key in terms of mood regulation, cognition, and sexual function. Understanding androgens’ intricate workings is of vital importance as their imbalance can have profound implications on health – leading to conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and androgenetic alopecia (AA).
Unraveling Androgens’ Role in Hormonal Balance Androgens are vital players when it comes to maintaining hormonal equilibrium and overall well-being, playing an instrumental part in keeping hormone levels under control and helping individuals live fulfilling lives.
Two key androgens, testosterone and DHEA, frequently capture attention due to their diverse functions within both male and female bodies and impactful impacts. Understanding their function, effects and interactions with other hormones are integral in order to reach optimal health outcomes. Testosterone, commonly referred to as the male hormone, plays an integral part in muscle growth and bone density regulation as well as increasing sexual desire in both males and females alike.
Though predominantly produced in testes, low amounts may also exist within women’s bodies. DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone is an essential precursor hormone that converts into other hormones such as testosterone and estrogen to support immune function, reduce inflammation, and ensure brain health. By delving deeper into androgens, we can better understand their impact on hormonal balance and appreciate their significance.
Androgens are natural or synthetic sex hormones that stimulate testosterone production in men and induce ovulation in women, as well as act as important modulators of development and physiology.
Your healthcare provider may administer blood tests to monitor your androgen levels if you experience irregular periods or show signs of hyperandrogenism (hirsutism, acne, or excess body hair) associated with polycystic ovary syndrome. These tests measure total testosterone and/or dihydrotestosterone sulfate concentrations.
Though many associate androgens with male sexual hormones, both women and men produce them. Androgens play an essential role in growth and development – with testosterone often playing the primary role during puberty when growth spurts occur – as well as other bodily functions like libido and cognitive abilities. Furthermore, they may even alter the environment surrounding bone cells to foster better bone health.
Androgens are produced in the adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes. While testosterone is the best-known androgen, other androgenic steroid hormones include dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA and DHEA-S). Androgens can be converted to estrogen via aromatase enzyme in the liver; additionally, cortisol production relies on these androgens as building blocks.
The functions of androgens in the body
Androgens play an essential part in male sexual development and reproductive organ functioning. At puberty, their levels rise dramatically to help build muscle mass and produce sperm production; androgens also help regulate female menstrual cycles during childbearing years.
Testosterone is one of the more widely known androgens, though other androgens such as dihydrotestosterone (DHT), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA), and androstenedione are produced through cholesterol production in adrenal glands and ovaries of both men and women.
DHT plays an essential part in the growth and development of penis, scrotum, and prostate. Additionally, DHT causes hair loss while activating sebaceous glands.
Androgens are converted to estrogens by women’s ovaries or men’s testicles, respectively, and when this process stops working effectively it may lead to symptoms like hot flashes or reduced libido. Women may also experience irregular menstrual cycles and small follicles on their ovaries known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), so your physician will need to check your androgen levels if these signs arise.
Common misconceptions about androgens
Androgens also referred to as male hormones, can be found both in men and women, with testosterone and its metabolite dihydrotestosterone being the principal sources. Androgens play an essential role during puberty; stimulating growth while also regulating reproductive tract functions such as bones, kidneys, livers, and muscles as well as sexual drive and cognitive abilities.
Testosterone is produced both in male testicles’ Leydig cells (gonads) and female adrenal glands’ adrenal glands, while it is required for producing estrogen, the female sexual hormone.
Androgen levels are usually measured through bloodwork. Females should aim for total testosterone levels between 6.0 and 86 nanograms per deciliter, with free testosterone making up only a small portion of total body androgens.
The impact of androgens on physical development
Androgens may be widely known for being male sex hormones, but they’re actually crucial in helping all genders navigate puberty and develop physically. Men may use androgens (including testosterone) to support sperm production as well as secondary characteristics like facial/body hair growth and deep voice; additionally, they regulate metabolism, bone/muscle development, and sexual drive. Women use androgens such as estrogen to support ovarian function during childbearing years as well as regulate menstruation cycles during menstruation cycles during childbearing years.
Androgens are produced in large amounts in the testes, ovaries and adrenal glands of men. If androgen levels become too low it can lead to symptoms like fatigue, low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and excessive hair growth (hirsutism). Low androgen levels can also result in breast development in males (gynecomastia), abnormal or missed periods, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels – among many others.
Androgens may be prescribed as part of a hormone therapy treatment plan in certain circumstances. If your doctor discovers a prostate cancer tumor, for instance, anti-androgen drugs like apalutamide or bicalutamide could help lower your androgen level and thus stop its growth as well as treat other symptoms like benign prostatic hyperplasia and hirsutism simultaneously.
The role of androgens in mental health
Androgens are hormones that aid the growth of body tissues, as well as supporting reproductive health and body development. Men use androgens to produce more sperm, while for women these hormones convert to estrogen which then help them achieve sexual function and regulate menstruation cycle cycles.
Hyperandrogenism occurs when androgen levels rise above an acceptable level, leading to irregular menstrual cycles, deepening voices, excessive body hair (hirsutism) obesity, diabetes, and heart disease as symptoms.
Hyperandrogenism may also contribute to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases as it stimulates hormone-producing tissue that is normally male-dominated. It can have serious negative health repercussions, including irregular menstruation cycles, deepening voices, excessive body hair (hirsutism) as well as contributing factors associated with obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases caused by excessive androgens produced from producing hormones from their source – as well as contributing towards obesity, diabetes, and heart disease being caused by excess.
Elevated androgens have also been linked with depression among women. This is likely because androgens bind to intracellular sex hormone receptors in the limbic system and have negative impacts on mood; however, studies have concluded that physiological androgen levels within normal range do not increase one’s risk for depression4.4
Hormonal imbalances and their effects
Hormonal imbalances can manifest themselves through irregular periods, lower sex drive levels, acne breakouts, and weight gain. Many women disregard these symptoms as minor inconveniences; however, they could actually be telling signs that something more serious has taken place within your system.
Women’s bodies convert androgen hormones to estrogens, the female versions of androgens. Estrogen is essential in supporting pregnancy development as well as menstrual cycle regulation; unfortunately, some women produce too much androgen or too little estrogen, leading to various hormone disorders.
Hormonal imbalance symptoms often include acne, thinning hair, weight gain, and irregular periods. Hormone fluctuations can also relax the lower esophageal sphincter allowing acid reflux. Androgen hormones may also cause sebaceous glands to overproduce oil which leads to clogged pores and breakouts. Hormone imbalance can be caused by lifestyle choices, diet, and stress but using hormone health supplements with wellness-promoting diets along with exercise will help bring balance back into your hormone levels.
The Balance of Estrogens and Androgens
Mammalian physiology and development depend heavily on a delicate balance between estrogens and androgens, both estrogens and androgens, serving distinct yet interlocking functions via their receptors. Although these hormones appear structurally similar, each has specific roles to perform through specific receptors. Females generate most of their estrogen through aromatase enzyme activity in breast tissue.
Postmenopausal women experience a dramatic decrease in ovarian production of estrogen, and adrenal androgens and sulfated estrogens become the main circulating steroids. Converting androgens into estrogens takes place locally in tissues such as the prostate and breast thanks to enzymes steroid sulfatase and 17b-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, making this step essential in stimulating sexual arousal and reproductive behavior in premenopausal females.
Androgens exert proliferative effects in prostate stroma and epithelium where they bind the androgen receptor. Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic androgen, caused a significant number of myocardial infarctions among polycystic ovary syndrome patients or transgender individuals on high doses of androgens, suggesting that an equilibrium between estrogens and androgens is crucial to healthful physiology.
Genetic females need androgen exposure in order to develop their reproductive system and secondary sexual characteristics, while estrogens play an essential role in maintaining soft tissues, mood regulation, and cognitive processes. Estrogen receptors ERa and ERb located on either the plasma membrane or nucleus respond with estrogen receptor activation to regulate numerous organs and tissues such as bone, cardiovascular systems, brain tissue, and gender-specific organs such as the testis and prostate.
How Do Androgens Function in Females?
androgens had long been considered hormones that only affected male physiology; however, research has now proven their importance to females as well. Androgens can be converted to female hormones (estrogens) in several tissues including the ovaries, adrenal glands, brain, and skin, and play an essential role in female sexual drive, arousal, and orgasm; their lack can result in sexual dysfunction in females.
Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, collectively referred to as androgens, are naturally produced in female bodies by their ovary, adrenal glands, and brain. Androgens play an essential role in regulating menstruation cycles and ovulation rates as well as the development of reproductive organs as well as the growth of fat cells within their bodies.
Androgen levels in our bodies are determined by various genetic, dietary, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Elevated levels can lead to issues like hirsutism, abnormal periods, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or metabolic disturbances like insulin resistance in females.
As women age, androgen levels begin to gradually decline until they reach their lowest point at menopause. This occurs regardless of age; it becomes especially pronounced during the transitional phase called perimenopause; Once menopause arrives, androgen levels have typically dropped by 50 percent or more since their peak.
Low androgen levels can lead to various symptoms, including reduced libido, poor sleep quality, decreased motivation and sense of well-being, fatigue, and low bone density. Women may temporarily improve these symptoms by taking testosterone or dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; however long-term use could increase heart disease risk as well as diabetes risk.
Androgens and PCOS
Androgens (testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), are male sexual hormones that stimulate both physical growth and masculinization. They play a major role in supporting sperm production as well as the development of the penis, epididymis and seminal vesicles during embryo development by acting through Sertoli cells of the testis in tandem with Mullerian inhibitory hormone (MIH). Androgens also serve to increase prostate growth among adult men as well as maintaining normal functioning of both urethra and penile tubes – doing this by activating an androgen receptor present on prostate cell surface receptors.
Androgens stimulate skeletal muscle enlargement in both adult male adipose tissue and adult male skeletal muscles, particularly myoblast cells called myoblasts, by increasing proliferation and fusion with other cells to form myotubes; this fusion process is essential to muscle expansion; consequently, androgens must be present for normal muscle morphology.
Women living with PCOS often display elevated blood levels of androgens that act via the androgen receptor to cause various clinical symptoms. Hyperandrogenism may play a part in the etiology of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), as experimental models that induce hyperandrogenism produce animals that display all the reproductive, endocrine and metabolic features typically seen with PCOS. Insulin resistance causes excess levels to rise as this results in decreased binding globulin and an increase in 3b-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase which converts pro-androgens into bioactive testosterone or DHT molecules. Insulin resistance leads to excess androgens being produced which leads to excess levels rising in blood.
How to maintain hormonal balance
Women must strive to maintain hormonal equilibrium as an essential part of overall wellness, which includes diet, regular exercise, and managing stress effectively. Hormone levels fluctuate daily and during different life stages (puberty, pregnancy, menopause or perimenopause). This is a healthy response to various biological events.
Unbalanced hormones in women may result in various symptoms, such as acne, irregular periods, and hair growth issues; additionally, an imbalanced hormonal balance could even contribute to serious medical issues like diabetes or heart disease.
Gynecologists in Lake Success can help determine whether you have hormonal imbalances by conducting blood tests and pelvic exams and can advise lifestyle changes that could improve them, such as eating more protein-rich and fiber-rich food to offset any impact from sitting too much during the day on hormones.
Androgens Secreted by the Adrenal Cortex
The adrenal cortex produces various steroid hormones, including mineralocorticoids (aldosterone) and glucocorticoids. The outer zone, known as zona glomerulosa, secretes mineralocorticoids; while the middle zone, zona fasciculate, secretes glucocorticoids. Finally, inside the zone, zona reticularis secretes androgens and corticosteroids produced this way help control metabolic and immune processes.
Androgens produced by the adrenal cortex have weak sex hormone activity; they instead serve as a pool of precursors that can be peripherally converted to testosterone, and play an important role in prepubertal development for both girls and boys alike, maintaining normal pubic hair growth for women while stimulating skeletal muscle cell proliferation while decreasing alpha adrenergic receptors to stimulate lipolysis/adipolysis processes in some tissues.
Furthermore, androgens contribute to development before puberty for both genders while contributing to development before puberty for girls and boys before puberty hits them, playing important roles prior to puberty for both genders before puberty starts for girls while supporting normal pubic hair growth for females while stimulating muscle cell proliferation which contributes to muscle development.
Androgens produced by the adrenal gland bind to albumin when released, with some binding to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). Once bound, these androgens may either be degraded and inactivated or undergo peripheral conversion to DHT or testosterone for use by cells throughout the body.
Adrenal androgen concentrations at birth are generally low; however, they increase rapidly during early childhood and reach a peak before puberty; This process is known as Adrenarche. While its precise cause remains unknown, abnormalities in its timing or intensity have been linked with PCOS, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or insulin resistance conditions as potential contributors.
Medical treatments for hormonal disorders
Women suffering from high androgen levels (hyperandrogenism) often exhibit symptoms such as hirsutism, acne, and irregular menstrual cycles due to hyperandrogenism. This condition is marked by infrequent or absent ovulation – making it the primary cause of female infertility. Mildly elevated androgen levels may indicate polycystic ovary syndrome or congenital adrenal hyperplasia or even tumors in either their ovary or adrenal glands – while medications prescribed for asthma or inflammation may contain progestin compounds to suppress production; this requires including certain progestin types in their formulation for effect.
Reduced androgen levels can result in low libido, fatigue, and decreased sense of well-being in both men and women. Low levels can aggravate hot flashes as well as reduce bone strength leading to osteoporosis; treatments include taking vitamin and mineral supplements that support the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and gonads – these organs produce estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone respectively which supplementations can contain to restore androgen levels in those suffering from abnormally low androgen levels – while treatments most effective against androgen deficiency are combinations containing estrogen and progestin.
What Hormones Are Androgens – Conclusion
Androgens are sex hormones that aid puberty and play an essential role in reproductive health and body development. Both genders produce androgens; males produce the majority of testosterone (T) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), with men’s testicles being responsible for its production while the ovaries of women create it, in addition to adrenal glands on top of each kidney also producing some androgens for conversion into estrogen by the body, leading to breast development or other secondary secondary characteristics that encourage secondary characteristics sex characteristics associated with female secondary characteristics like breast development or breast expansion.
Lower androgen levels can contribute to sexual dysfunction. In men, this condition is called hypogonadism and symptoms include poor sex drive, abnormal penile function (erectile dysfunction), and excess facial or body hair (hirsutism). Women experiencing low androgen levels may suffer missed periods, uterus issues, and pelvic inflammatory diseases – while also experiencing higher cholesterol and blood pressure levels due to androgens increasing cholesterol production and circulation.
Some individuals take medications to decrease the body’s production of androgens, such as for menopausal hormone therapy or prostate cancer treatment. Unfortunately, however, such drugs can also be misused or abused for non-medical reasons – for instance increasing muscle mass among athletes.
Your healthcare provider may recommend running androgen tests if you exhibit signs of polycystic ovary syndrome or high androgen levels, either using saliva samples or blood samples from you. Tests may measure both testosterone and DHEA-sulfate (DHEA-S), with pro-androgens also acting as androgens but only weakly on receptors until converted by your body into testosterone.