Difference Between Androgen And Testosterone: An Insight Into The Male Hormones

Difference Between Androgen And Testosterone

While most of us are familiar with testosterone, we barely know the term androgen. In many sites, they define both testosterone and androgen as male hormones. Is the claim justified? What is the main difference between androgen and testosterone?

 

The following article answers it all.

Androgen Vs. Testosterone: The Difference Between Androgen And Testosterone

Difference Between Androgen And Testosterone

There is no apparent difference between androgen and testosterone. Androgen is a more generic term and collectively indicates the male reproductive hormone. Again, testosterone is a type of androgen that predominates in all genders.

 

Let’s find out if these hormones work similarly or have core differences.

Androgen: The Male Hormone

 

In simple words, androgen is a group hormone that plays a significant role in reproduction. The adjective we use to define androgen is itself wrong. Though this hormone influences the male traits and has been tagged as the male hormone, the female body also produces androgen.

 

By androgen, we often understand testosterone. Yes, testosterone kind of rules here. However, there are other types of androgens too, which are equally significant. Some other hormones of the androgen group are,

 

  • Androstenedione, dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), etc.

 

In males, testicles are the manufacturers of androgens, and in females, ovaries take the responsibility.

What Do Androgens Do?

 

Androgens play different roles depending on gender. Of course, there are a few common grounds. Such as,

 

Puberty Transformation: We all have experienced the changes when entering puberty. Male genital and female breast enlargement, growth of pubic hair, etc., are part of pubertal maturation. These transformations in our bodies occur due to the secretion of androgen.

 

Libido: Androgens have a meaningful effect on the sexual functions of both males and females. These hormones increase the sex drive and sensitivity in the genitalia. These lead to a satisfactory orgasm.

 

Healthy Bone Density: The lack of bone porosity and mass leads to osteoporosis. Androgens can be the life savior in those conditions as this set of hormones promotes bone growth. The androgens influence the local and systemic bone growth factors resulting in increased bone density.

 

Muscle Growth: Increased androgen leads to the development of all tissues, especially muscle mass. All credit goes to the anabolic effect of androgens on muscle stem cells and muscle tissues.

 

Increased Red Blood Cell: Androgens influence red blood cell production too. The hormones boost the red cell rate by promoting iron incorporation and bone marrow activity.

 

Androgen In Males

 

Androgens are named male hormones as they are present in bulk ratio and influence masculinity. The testicles are the primary production house of androgens with little contribution from other cells.

 

From reproductive organ development to sexual fertility, androgens are the crucial role player in male bodies. Scientists suggest that the androgens also influence the sperm development of mature men. Not only that, these hormones affect the pubertal maturity of men. Increased secretion of androgens leads to deeper voice and facial, chest, and pubic hair growth during puberty.

 

The internal or external factors often influence the androgen production in men. The hormone deficiency causes,

  • Low libido
  • Infertility
  • Breast development
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweat
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Trouble achieving sexual gratification
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Reduced bone and muscle mass, etc.

 

Similarly, the high levels of androgens are also cursed for males. It leads to excessive body and facial hair, infertility, grumpy mood, aggression, etc.

 

What Are Androgens In Females?

 

The ovaries, fat cells, and adrenal glands are the production house of androgens in females. Instead of being the male hormones, testosterone has more than 200 tasks in women.

 

The female body naturally produces a small ratio of androgens, which help them in puberty, libido, regular menstruation, etc. Different sources claim that these hormones can be present at a higher bulk, even compared to estrogen. On average, female bodies can produce 1/10th to 1/20th of the ratio of androgens present in male bodies.

 

The present amount of androgens in the female body affects different variables. Excessive or high androgen levels are often responsible for facial hair growth, acne, prolonged period, and development of male characteristics. On the other hand, androgen deficiency leads to lethargy, depression, muscle loss, low sexual drive, sadness, etc.

 

On the good part, if the female body produces the right amount of androgens, it is a blessing. The lady will enjoy a smooth pubertal maturation and probably a healthy sex life.

 

Other than these, androgens influence the healthy functions of muscles, reproductive tract, kidneys, liver, etc. Moreover, these hormones also prevent bone mass and density loss, which leads to weak bones in adult women.

 

Testosterone: A Type Of Androgen

 

Testosterone is not itself a generic hormone but belongs to the androgen group. Among all the androgen hormones, testosterone has a dominative production and impact. Testosterone is also a male hormone due to its influence on male characteristics and sex life.

 

Now, there are many things we have misunderstood about testosterone. For starters, females naturally produce a tiny amount of testosterone too. So, it is not solely a male hormone. Again, many people connect testosterone with aggression, which is a myth.

 

Testosterone plays a significant role in functioning the body properly. A drop or rise in the hormone causes imbalance leading to physical and mental change.

 

Testosterone Effects On Human Bodies

 

Testosterone has similar roles as androgens, but their work sectors are more specific. A few examples are,

 

Puberty & Reproduction: Say it is the undesired pubic hair or the enlargement of your genitalia. Testosterone is the master behind the role. The hormone even controls the libido and sexual gratification.

 

Weight Control And Bone Growth: Testosterone makes the shredding of extra pounds or gaining weight hassle-free. The hormone aids in tissue building and, at the same time, prevents the risk of bone fracture.

 

Mood: While a low testosterone level causes depression, a rise in the hormone leads to aggression and dominance. Many researchers have linked mental state to testosterone level, and there is enough evidence to back up the claim.

 

Healthy Organs: Testosterone influences red blood cell production by spurring bone marrow activity. A healthy blood flow takes care of the heart and prevents cardiovascular diseases.

 

What Does Testosterone Do To A Man?

 

Testicles are the primary, and adrenal glands are the minor producers of testosterone.

 

The hormone controls the prominent characteristics in men. From the development of the reproductive system to mental health, testosterone plays a role in every aspect of a man’s life. The hormone level stays at the peak around puberty and decreases after 30.

 

During puberty, this hormone is responsible for a deep voice, facial, chest, pubic hair, and the enlargement of the penis and testicles. Healthy sex life is also a blessing of testosterone. Besides, it promotes healthy bone and muscle growth.

 

What happens if the testosterone is not in the normal range? The deficiency causes depression, fatigue, low libido, unsatisfied sex, reduced sperm production, bone fracture, weight gain, poor concentration, less body hair, etc. On the other hand, high testosterone levels lead to disturbing sleep cycles, weight gain, irritating mood, oily skin, acne, and undesired hair growth.

 

Testosterone In Females

 

Over the years, science has proved that testosterone is not a hormone for males only. The female body also produces this hormone in its ovaries, adrenal glands, and peripheral tissues.

 

Testosterone is not a silent hormone in women but plays significant roles in critical functions. Without a perfect balance ratio between testosterone and estrogen, the ovaries may not work the way they should.

 

Similarly, the hormone aids in brain functions and sexual behavior. It also has a noticeable control on bone and muscle growth.

 

A drop in testosterone level does not affect females as severely as males. The decrease naturally occurs after menopause and leads to less sexual drive, depression, and tiredness. On the contrary, the rise of testosterone injects male characteristics in women, such as frontal baldness, deep voice, acne, oily face, increased muscle, enlarged clitoris, etc.

 

Final Thoughts

 

There is no difference between androgen and testosterone. While androgen is a more generic term, testosterone is more specific. But if you go through the roles of the hormones in our bodies, well, you will find nothing but similarities.

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Dr. David Nazarian

Dr. Nazarian is board certified in Internal Medicine and practices integrative medicine in the heart of Beverly Hills. In his career he has worked in the Emergency Department as well as in the hospital setting as a hospitalist. He has extensive medical training in hormone replacement therapy.

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