An androgen is any of the group of hormones that influence the development of the male reproductive system. Among all the androgens found in the male body, the most active is testosterone. Unlike other androgens, testosterones are formed primarily in the testes. Other androgens are manufactured mainly in the adrenal glands. These other androgens work chiefly as a support for the functions of testosterone.
Androgens are the primary cause of normal changes of puberty in boys. They also influence sperm-cell formation and sexual interests or behavior of all men of all ages. They are also the cause of baldness and loss of body hair.
Although androgens are predominantly male sex hormones, they can also be found in women, however, in smaller quantities. For women, androgens are produced mostly in the adrenal glands and the ovaries.
There are two causes of classical androgen deficiency, the firs being testicular disorders that reduce testosterone production, and the second by hypothalamic-pituitary disorders that reduce pituitary secretion of gonadotropins (the tropic drive to testosterone secretion).
Testicular Dysfunctions maybe related to Klinefelter's syndrome or to other developmental or toxic damages caused to the testes. Gondadotropin deficiency, on the other hand, is caused by either pituitary tumors or genetic causes such as Kalliman's syndrome. Kallmann's syndrome often includes other abnormalities, such as anosmia (inability to perceive odors), midline cranial defects, color blindness, deafness and synkinesis (involuntary muscular movements).
Partial or transient deficiency may occur due to chronic illnesses, severe acute illnesses, drug use, aging and constitutional delay of puberty.
Features of Androgen Deficiency
Androgen deficiency during fetal life may result in the failure of the Wolffian structures to develop, ambiguity of the external genitalia due to failure of fusion, hypospadias (abnormally placed urinary opening), microphallus (abnormally small penis), or a combination of these. This usually happens when the deficiency occurs in the second half of the pregnancy when the fetal gonad is already under the control of the fetal pituitary.
In adolescence, androgen deficiency manifests as late or incomplete sexual and physical development. This is usually manifested as a delay in adolescence. Men with pre-pubertal androgen deficiency retain their high-pitched voice and do not develop the male pattern temporal recession of the hairline.
In adults, androgen deficiency causes symptoms that are characteristically non-specific. These are manifested through behavioral or physical changes. An adult experiencing androgen deficiency is usually lethargic, easy fatigued, has lack of stamina or endurance, has reduced libido, irritable or "short-fused." Objective effects of androgen deficiency in adult men include mild to moderate reduction in hemoglobin level, weight gain and reduction in muscle and bone mass.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement
Bioidentical hormone replacement for men is an extremely effective therapy that has been proven to offer a greatly improved quality of life and is a safe way to help men deal with the impact of androgen deficiency. Patients under this treatment are usually started on topically applied creams or a trans-dermal patches. Creams are to be applied on the skin daily while patches are to be placed at the back, abdomen, upper arms, or thighs or scrotum. Since some patients don't respond well to the patches, as they develop rashes, or their skins won't readily absorb the creams, some physicians provide injectables which patients can inject on themselves daily or weekly.