Androgens, also called androgenic hormones, are hormones that control the development of reproductive organs and triggers puberty in males. In addition, these hormones maintain masculine characteristics, such as a deep voice, facial hair, muscle mass, sex drive and aggressiveness.
They are primarily manufactured in the testes, ovaries and adrenal glands. Although women do produce some androgen, normally the amount is only a small percentage in comparison (similar to that of a male’s production of estrogen). Testosterone and androsterone are the two main types of androgens.
Androgen deficiency is a health condition usually associated with males. Yet it can cause problems for females as well. Symptoms both genders may experience as a result are:
A decline in androgen production can be a normal consequence of aging, in males the media has hyped it as andropause and in women it may occur after menopause. In males, these are some of the other causes for androgen deficiency:
- testes trauma
- testicular torsion
- pituitary gland tumor
- Klinefelter’s syndrome
- undescended testicles
- toxic damage to testes
- orchitis ~ mumps, gonorrhea, chlamydia
- side effect of chemotherapy, radiotherapy
A rare cause of androgen deficiency is an issue involving your hypothalamus, such as a tumor or congenital abnormality.
Typically, androgen excess is predominately a problem for women. In fact, this health condition is among the most common endocrine disorder during a female’s reproductive years. In women, androgens are produced mainly in the adrenal glands and ovaries. Also, adipose tissue and skin may cause weak ones to become more potent.
Symptoms of androgen excess can include:
- weight gain
- reproductive dysfunction ~ amenorrhea, irregular menstruation, infertility
Ovarian tumors and PCOS are frequently the cause for your ovaries to produce androgen in excess. But an overproduction of androgen may also be caused by a tumor in your adrenal or pituitary gland. And if high levels of androgens are left untreated, your risk increases for insulin resistance, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease.