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Hormones are chemical messengers released into the bloodstream in small quantities. They influence various processes in the body including growth and development. The hormones that act on the reproductive organs are called sex hormones. Androgens are hormones that majorly influence the development of the male reproductive system.
What is androgen hormone?
Androgens are a group of hormones that play a vital role in male traits and reproductive activity. The interstitial cells of Leydig that are located in the intertubular space in the testes produce a collection of hormones known as androgens. Androgen secretion is stimulated by luteinizing hormone [LH]. Together with FSH, androgen regulates spermatogenesis
Androgen is a natural or synthetic sex steroid hormone produced in both male and female reproductive organs. In women, androgens are produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells.
Functions of androgen hormone
Androgens play a key role in the hormonal cascade that stimulates puberty, and hair growth in the pubic and underarm areas. It also regulates the functioning of many organs, including the bones and muscles, reproductive tract, kidneys and liver. In females, androgens are also necessary for the synthesis of estrogen hormones and play an important role in controlling sexual desire, keeping the bones strong, etc. Important functions of Androgens hormones in males include:
- They generate anabolic effects on carbohydrate metabolism and protein.
- These play a critical stimulatory role in the phenomena of spermatogenesis.
- They act on the central neural system, influencing male sexual behaviour.
- Secretion of growth hormones at the time of puberty.
- These trigger the growth of muscles, facial and axillary hair, low pitch of voice, aggressiveness, etc.
- Checks the maturation, development and functions of the male accessory sex organs such as vas deferens, epididymis, seminal vesicles, urethra, prostate gland, etc.
Apart from sexual health, this hormone is also involved in maintaining the body’s metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and possibly body composition.
Also Refer: Hormones and Hormonal Disorders
In women, there is a fluctuation in hormonal levels during the menstrual cycle. The changes in the hormonal levels vary with the sex and age of an individual. The level of hormonal production decreases with age.
As per medical records, the level of hormonal production increases during pregnancy and will be higher when a person is pregnant with a male fetus.
Causes for the changes in hormonal levels include:
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Very early menopause
- Surgically-induced menopause
- Primary ovarian insufficiency
- Side effects for medication including birth control and other hormone therapy containing estrogen
Symptoms of high androgen levels in females include:
- Absent periods
- Irregular periods
- Excess facial hair growth
- Male voice
- Type II diabetes
The low-level androgen in the body causes a wide range of symptoms. Some of the common symptoms of androgen deficiency in males include:
- Hot flushes
- Mood swings
- Loss of body hair
- Breast development
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Reduced sexual desire
- Reduced amount of ejaculate
- Weaker erections and orgasms
- Reduced muscle mass and strength
- Increased body fat, particularly around the abdomen
This article concludes with an introduction to the androgen hormone, their functions, disorders caused by their level of production and their symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions on Androgen hormone
What causes high androgens in females?
In females, androgens are secreted in ovaries, adrenal gland and fat cells. Increased secretion of androgen is caused by underlying conditions like PCOS, hirsutism and tumour in ovary or adrenal gland.
What happens if androgen levels are high in females?
High levels of androgens in females causes acne, infertility, irregular periods, excess growth of unwanted facial hair and thinning of hair. It also causes complications like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Is androgen the same as testosterone?
Androgen is a common name given for a group of steroid hormones. Testosterone is the majorly known androgen.
What are the effects of androgens on males?
In males, androgens act on the reproductive organs and responsible for development of secondary sexual characteristics like growth of muscles, facial and axillary hair and low pitch of voice.
What happens if androgen levels are low in males?
If there is reduced androgen levels in males, then the symptoms are
- Loss of body hair.
- Breast development.
- Lethargy and fatigue.
- Reduced sexual desire.
- Reduced amount of ejaculate.