What are effects of androgens?

Updated: Apr 07, 2020
  • Author: Mohamed Yahya Abdel-Rahman, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Richard Scott Lucidi, MD, FACOG  more...
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Androgens induce virilization and are responsible for forming the male external genitalia in the fetus. Their absence or the absence of androgen receptors results in a female phenotype, despite the presence of a 46 XY karyotype (eg, androgen insensitivity syndrome). Androgens are also responsible for the development of the secondary sexual organs and ducts, the seminal vesicles, and the prostate.

Postnatal females are not as sensitive as the fetus to androgens, which induce the growth of sexual hair, temporal balding, acne, clitoral growth, sebum production, and a deepening of the voice.

Oral androgens decrease high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. With androgen excess, the extent of these changes is dependent on the level of androgens in the blood.

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