Is Testosterone and Androgen the same thing?

by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert

ben bunting BA(Hons) PgCert Sport & Exercise Nutriton  Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. L2 Strength & Conditioning Coach.

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There's often a bit of confusion about the difference between an androgen and a sex hormone such as testosterone.

That's why we have put together this article to clarify.

The most common androgen is testosterone.

So testosterone is an androgen hormone, but not the sole androgen.

In this article we shall cover the following points:

  • What are androgens?
  • What is testosterone?
  • How to androgens affects females?
  • Conclusion

What are androgens?

 

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 An androgen is an organic chemical compound that influences male sexual characteristics and functions primarily by binding to androgen receptors in certain tissues. [1]

Androgen's are anabolic to a person. It is a hormone that causes the development and the functioning of the sex organs, enhances muscle growth, and regulates libido. 

Testosterone is an androgen that is particularly important for males because it causes their voice to deepen, promotes facial and body hair growth, and influences cholesterol levels and fat distribution.

Testosterone can also affect certain cognitive properties. For example, testosterone helps boost spatial memory and other mental abilities. 

Androgens are sex hormones that initiate puberty. Your body then changes, you develop typical male characteristics and your sex drive increases. [2]

Androgens are produced by male reproductive system in the testes.

On top of each kidney are the adrenal glands that also produce these hormones.

What does Anabolic mean?

is testosterone and androgen the same thing?

With anabolism, molecules are constructed from smaller units by metabolic pathways. This is a reaction that requires energy which essentially builds and grows. [3]

For example, being in an anabolic state is when the body builds and repairs muscle tissue. This could be just after a weight session in the gym, having a protein and carbohydrate rich food source will help with this recovery process.

Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of the hormone testosterone.

They can have positive effects by increasing the amount of testosterone in the body, but misue can result in damaged testicular function. [4]

These anabolic steroids can be used to treat disease. For example, anabolic steroids are used to treat HIV, hepatitis and cancer to help prevent muscle wastage and weight loss. [5]

However, misuse of anabolic steroids can be harmful and illegal, we'll discuss more about steroids later on in the article.

What are the other types of androgens?

Testosterone is the primary androgen in the body. Additionally, other androgens are also known as:

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is a hormone prodominantly in men (although women produce small amounts, too) that is responsible for a number of biological functions in the body.

And, testosterone is an androgen.

Testosterone is the main male androgen, meaning it is the hormone responsible for male characteristics such as facial hair, a deep voice, and muscle mass. [6]

This androgenic hormone is produced by the gonadal glands (which are the Leydig cells in testes and by the ovaries of women).

In the female body, testosterone is converted to estrogen, which is the primary female sex hormone.

Testosterone is also known as the original hormone that helps to create the male sex drive.

During puberty, a male will experience a peak of testosterone which helps his body develop. [7]

Testosterone levels tend to be naturally low in males after the age of 30 or 40 and can remain relatively low throughout the rest of life.

This is known as the andropause, however, if a man's testosterone levels are unusually low, this is referred to as hypogonadism. [8]

Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is one of the most widely used treatments for men with low testosterone levels (hypogonadism).

TRT is generally safe—in the short term—and has been proven to be very effective.

This is because TRT is considered a "conservative" hormone therapy because it uses the lowest possible effective dose of testosterone with the lowest feasible risk of side effects.

Although the risks are low, there are still some side effects to be aware of.

Is TRT the same as anabolic steroids?

In terms of testosterone consumption, TRT differs from anabolic steroids.

The TRT method targets low testosterone symptoms and elevates them to a safe level, whereas anabolic steroids contain testosterone in much higher doses.

This means you can achieve huge gains of lean body mass combined with fat loss to create a muscular body. [9]

Is there any side effects of using Testosterone?

Some of the negative effects of testosterone include:

  • It can influence mood
  • Cause acne
  • Thinning of hair
  • Prostate hyperplasia
  • Gynecomastia
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What is the best way to use Testosterone?

The best way to use testosterone is to start a low dose and slowly build up.

However, if you are using other forms of androgens for other health issues, you should talk to your doctor.

Always remember there may be legal issues using testosterone that isn't on prescription, and misue can cause irreversible damage. 

How do Androgens Affect Females?

is testosterone and androgen the same thing?

Androgens are essential for the health and functions of the body in both females and males.

In females, androgens assist with puberty, pregnancy, libido, and breast development. [10]

These effects are mediated through the synthesis and action of two types of hormones: estrogens and progestins.

Estrogens and Progestins Hormones Estrogens and Progestins are two types of hormones present in females.

Both types are involved in reproduction, although estrogens perform a greater role than progestins.

However, progestins have a more important role when it comes to pregnancy and breast development.

Can a woman have too many androgen hormones?

While androgens are typically found in women's bloodstreams, excessive amounts can cause acne, weight gain, excessive hair growth (hirsutism) and even infertility.

What causes androgen excess in women?

About 40% to 50% of testosterone is produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands in healthy women.

Both polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and the ovaries can produce too many androgen hormones. [11]

There could be a problem with the pituitary gland that produces excess corticosteroids.

Women experience changes in their bodies as a result of corticosteroids which produce masculine characteristics.

On top of producing too many androgens, cancers in the adrenal glands can also lead to male body characteristics in women.

Conclusion

The adrenal glands, the testes, and the ovaries generate androgens.

Men and women both build androgens during puberty. Males have a major androgen called testosterone.

DHT (DHT) and androstenedione are equally important for male development.

The penis, scrotum, and prostate are formed by DHT in utero.

Even though androgens are considered only male hormones, women also have them, but at lower levels.

Testosterone is an androgen hormone alongside other androgen hormones.

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References:

  1. medlineplus.gov. (n.d.). AR gene: MedlinePlus Genetics. [online] Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/gene/ar/.

  2.  Hiort, O. (2002). Androgens and Puberty. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, [online] 16(1), pp.31–41. doi:10.1053/beem.2002.0178.

  3. Metabolism and energy Metabolism: chemical reactions in cells. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://www.rsb.org.uk/images/10_Metabolism_and_energy.pdf.

  4. Rasmussen, J.J., Albrethsen, J., Frandsen, M.N., Jørgensen, N., Juul, A. and Kistorp, C. (2021). Serum Insulin-like Factor 3 Levels Are Reduced in Former Androgen Users, Suggesting Impaired Leydig Cell Capacity. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, [online] 106(7), pp.e2664–e2672. doi:10.1210/clinem/dgab129.

  5. www.cochrane.org. (n.d.). Anabolic steroids for the treatment of weight loss in HIV-infected individuals. [online] Available at: https://www.cochrane.org/CD005483/HIV_anabolic-steroids-for-the-treatment-of-weight-loss-in-hiv-infected-individuals.

  6. Bs, D.J.H.M. (2000). Androgen Physiology, Pharmacology and Abuse. [online] PubMed. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279000/.‌‌‌ 

  7. Duke, S.A., Balzer, B.W.R. and Steinbeck, K.S. (2014). Testosterone and Its Effects on Human Male Adolescent Mood and Behavior: A Systematic Review. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55(3), pp.315–322. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.05.007
  8. Singh, P. (2013). Andropause: Current concepts. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 17(9), p.621. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.123552.
  9. Traish, A.M. (2014). Testosterone and weight loss. Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity, [online] 21(5), pp.313–322. doi:10.1097/med.0000000000000086.
  10. Dimitrakakis, C. and Bondy, C. (2009). Androgens and the breast. Breast Cancer Research, 11(5). doi:10.1186/bcr2413.
  11. Elhassan, Y.S., Idkowiak, J., Smith, K., Asia, M., Gleeson, H., Webster, R., Arlt, W. and O’Reilly, M.W. (2018). Causes, Patterns, and Severity of Androgen Excess in 1205 Consecutively Recruited Women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 103(3), pp.1214–1223. doi:10.1210/jc.2017-02426.‌‌‌