What is Androgen?
Androgen is part of many groups of hormones related to the male reproductive system’s development. Part of the group – steroid hormones, androgens can be naturally produced by the body or can be synthetically manufactured in the form of an injectable, a patch, or a pill.
The most active and abundant androgen in the male body is testosterone. The male sexual characteristics are mainly attributed to testosterone production. Normally produced by the testes of male individuals during the onset of puberty, testosterone is produced throughout a man’s life but declines in amount as men get older. Testosterone is what stimulates the growth of the male’s sexual organ (the penis, scrotum and testes), the deepening of the male’s voice, hair growth on the body and face, and also the formation of masculine figures, characterized by predominantly bulkier muscles in the shoulders, arms and thighs. Although it is not the only androgen in the body, testosterone plays the most vital part in these developments.
Women also produce androgens in the adrenal cortex and ovaries but are instantly converted into estrogens (hormones that develop the female sexual characteristics). Sexual drive and bone loss in women are affected by the minimal amount of the unconverted androgens in a woman’s body. And excessive androgen in some women causes them to develop male characteristics such as a deep voice or facial hair.
Synthetic androgens are medically consumed for therapeutic purposes. They are prescribed to lessen symptoms of ‘male menopause’ in adult men such as anxiety, depression and decreased sex drive. Since androgens stimulate growth, they are being used to treat dwarfism. In women, androgens are sometimes prescribed in the treatment of anemia and breast cancer. It is also used for women who undergo gender change for them to develop male characteristics. Androgens should not be taken without the doctor’s prescription and supervision because it may cause serious side effects such as stimulating prostate cancer, liver diseases, and problems in sperm production.