What is Androstenedione?
Androstenedione or Andro is a steroid hormone that is produced by adrenal glands of both the male testes and female ovaries.
It plays a major role in the production of testosterone and estrogen. Androstenedione can also be taken as an oral supplement to increase your T levels.
Athletes refer to it as Andro, which is commonly used as a natural alternative to anabolic steroids.
It’s good at boosting your testosterone levels which help to increase your energy levels, improve your athletic performance, build muscle mass, enhance recovery and growth after a workout, and improve your sexual activity and performance.
Bodybuilders also like using Androstenedione, but in 2005 it was reclassified from a dietary supplement to an anabolic steroid which is a controlled substance and which was later banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
From the age of 7 years, a child’s adrenal glands begin to produce more DHEA which causes some changes in their body like their skin begins to produce more oil, bones begin to mature, and their body develops an odor.
This period is known as Adrenarche, it marks the early signs of puberty which also indicates the awakening of the adrenal gland.
During this time, DHEA increases which in turn increases the androstenedione levels that play a big role in the learning of cultural, social, and ecological skills like the development and understanding of sexual attraction and even aggression and competitiveness in boys.
Then during adulthood, the levels begin to decline.
Is Androstenedoine legal?
According to the Olympic Games and the World Anti-Doping Agency, Androstenedione is banned from being used by any professional athlete.
The FDA also banned the sale of Androstenedione supplements as they deemed to pose a threat to the health of users.
In 2004, the President of the United States passed into law the Anabolic Steroid Control Act that added Andro in the list of banned steroid-based drugs that are non-prescription.
Androstenedione has also been banned by the NBA, NFL, MLB, USOC, and NCAA and is currently classified under the Controlled Substance Act.
This means it’s illegal to sell or use it, which makes it a federal crime if you’re caught having this supplement.
Young people, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts should understand that there is no short cut to achieving a great body and the only way you can faster and stronger is by eating a healthy nutritious diet and regular exercise.
Andro became very popular after US baseball slugger, Mark McGwire said that he has been using it to help build muscle mass.
Andro also claims to heighten your sexual arousal and performance, promote faster recovery after a workout, and keep your red blood cells healthy.
Androstenedione supplement uses
Although Androstenedione isn’t a supplement that is in use currently, the people who used to take it before it was reclassified as a steroid helped them in increasing their testosterone levels, reducing fat, and boosting their energy levels.
Here are some of the Androstenedione uses.
Increase testosterone levels
While Androstenedione can increase your testosterone levels in your blood, it will only do so when you take more than 300 mg.
The problem is when your testosterone levels rise so does estradiol, a female hormone.
According to studies, taking Androstenedione supplements orally at a dosage of between 5-300 mg doesn’t have any effect on your strength, muscle size, or body fat.
Taking 300 mg of Androstenedione has a short-lasting effect which means your testosterone levels increase for about 8 hours.
When your T levels are at their highest is after 2 hours of taking a dose then they begin to decline.
All this while, your estrogen levels increase significantly because Androstenedione is a steroid prohormone which means it can be converted into estrogen in your body.
Taking Androstenedione doesn’t seem to have any effect on your body weight.
However, when your testosterone increases for a while, it may increase your muscle mass but not your fat mass.
This causes you to add some weight and with time your estrogen levels will increase which may lead to an increase in your fat mass.
There doesn’t seem to be any significant change in your energy levels after taking Androstenedione supplement.
Many athletes claim that taking Andro has increased their energy levels, however, there isn’t any proof of their claims.
But, according to many studies done, taking Andro doesn’t affect your energy levels or athletic performance in any way.
How low or how high your androstenedione levels are in your blood is closely related to your estrogen levels.
So when androstenedione is converted into testosterone then to estrogen, if your estrogen levels are low it could cause osteoporosis.
And women with osteoporosis and have reached menopause have lower levels of androstenedione than those who don’t have the disease.
It’s believed that androstenedione is responsible for increasing the activity of building cells in your bones or osteoblasts.
Following the FDA ban and the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, supplement companies have stopped manufacturing androstenedione products.
Now, the anabolics produced today are known as prohormones or Andros.
They contain compounds that are transformed into hormones in your body.
These prohormones go through a two-step process to convert it into the intended hormone in your body.
That doesn’t mean they become less effective, in fact, they even work better clearing the way for active hormones.
Here are some of the Andros in the market.
Also known as 1-Androsterone or 1-DHEA and one of the few prohormones that you can still buy legally.
1-Andro is the most common Andro replacements and one that occurs naturally which is known by its chemical name; 3b-hydroxy-5a-androst-1-en-17-one.
1-Andro is an androgenic sex hormone that can’t be converted into estrogen which means it’s an anabolic.
It goes through the 2-step process of conversion in your body to convert it into 1-testosterone that is then used by your body to build lean muscle tissue.
1-testosterone is naturally occurring in your body and more effective than testosterone and since 1-Andro doesn’t convert to estrogen, you don’t have some side effects like man boobs.
1-Andro has both positive and negative effects on your body. Some of the positive effects include:
- Increased lean muscle mass
- Muscle hardening effects
- A rapid increase in strength
- A decrease in body fat
- No water retention
- Increases pump in weight lifting
However, some users reported some of the following negative effects:
- Reduction in good cholesterol
- Muscle cramps
- Testosterone suppression
These side effects are mild and the best part is this prohormone isn’t toxic to your organs.
Epi-Andro is a powerful androgenic steroid hormone that converts to DHT, male sex in your body when absorbed.
Epi-Andro works quickly when it gets into your body to increase your strength and help in rapidly gaining muscle mass.
Because DHT is a powerful androgenic male hormone, you will experience a significant increase in your libido, muscle hardness, fat loss, and reduced water retention.
DHT inhibits estrogen conversion in your body which helps your body loses water and fat while still adding muscle mass.
Also, Epi-Andro can bind to sex hormone-binding globulins (SHBG) which helps to increase the free testosterone in your body.
Epi-Andro is very useful if you’re looking to add muscle density and hardness.
Also if you want to cut on excess body fat and increase and increase your strength and muscle mass.
4-Andro or 4-Androstenolone is similar to the naturally occurring prohormone DHEA which is also known as 4-androstene-3b-ol, 17-one.
Just like 1-Andro, 4-Andro goes through a 2-step by first converting to both androstenedione and androstenediol, then converts to testosterone made from both synthetic and natural prohormones.
4-Andro is a non-methylated prohormone which means it doesn’t block your liver from digesting the supplement before it enters your bloodstream.
This makes this supplement very liver-friendly and a safe supplement to use. With 4-Andro products, there is a slight conversion of testosterone to estrogen which may cause some bloating, but it will benefit your bone density and sexual function.
- Increases your strength in lifts
- Improves your mood
- Aids in muscle recovery
- Increases protein synthesis which helps with muscle growth
- Increases your pumps
- It’s non-methylated which isn’t toxic to your liver
- Increased aggression
- Muscle cramps
- High blood pressure
- Man boobs, although rare
4) Tri Andro
Tri Andro is a combination of 1-Andro, 4-Andro, and Epi-Andro to create a very potent and affordable combination of Andros that is an all-in-one supplement.
This trio of anabolic compounds will enhance your strength, power, lean muscle, recovery, and testosterone production.
This makes Tri Andro one of the strongest legal Andro supplement in the market.
5) Testosterone Boosters
Most all-natural testosterone booster that contains Tongkat Ali, a root used by natives in South Asian countries as herbal medicine and is an active ingredient in most T-boosters. L-arginine, Tongkat Ali, & D-aspartic acid can boost your body’s production of testosterone. I have gathered interesting studies along with best T-boosers (click here to find out).
It’s also known for its ability to boost your sexual function and promote an overall general feeling. Although testosterone boosters doesn’t contain androstenedione or testosterone, it helps your body produce more on its own.
Androstenedione safety and side effects
Androstenedione supplements are synthetic androgens that change the hormonal balance in your body.
These changes can have some common side effects in both men and women.
One of those side effects is a decrease in your good cholesterol or HDL levels, a condition that can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
In men, androstenedione can cause the organs that produce testosterone to shut down.
As your T levels are boosted, strangely your body tries to balance your hormones by increasing the production of the female hormones which increases when you exercise.
Side effects in men
- Reduced sperm count
- Enlarged breasts
- Increased aggression
- Mood swings
- Prolonged and painful erections
- Shrunken testicles
The opposite effects happen to women who take Andro supplements. They develop male sex traits.
Side effects in women
- Increased facial or body hair
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Deep voice
- Coarse skin
- Abdominal fat
Androstenedione supplements may also increase your risk of liver disease, heart disease, and cancers of the prostate, breast, or pancreas.
It can also cause damage to your kidney, salivary glands, and clitoral gland.
However, these supplements can also reduce your risk of non-cancerous tumors of the breast and testicles.
Androstenedione seems to increase estrogen levels in your body. Which means you shouldn’t take androstenedione supplements if you’re on estrogen pills.
Taking them together can lead to a drastic increase in your estrogen levels.
If you’re taking antidepressants, diabetic drugs, antipsychotic medication, and antiviral drugs can increase your bad cholesterol levels if you combine them with androstenedione supplements.
Androstenedione supplements increase your bad cholesterol while decreasing your good cholesterol.
Also combining androstenedione supplements with most drugs can increase the risk of causing serious damage to your liver and kidneys.
And because it affects the balance of your sexual hormones, it can affect the efficacy of many of the hormonal processes.
Although not many studies have been done on specific interactions between androstenedione and medication, there is a potentially high risk of interactions and side effects.
Special precautions and warnings
Although not much is known about the use of androstenedione supplements for women during breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to be cautious and stay away from using them.
Also, pregnant women should not use these supplements as they can cause early labour or a miscarriage.
In children, they can stop bone growth which can lead to shorter adult height and bring about early puberty.
Depression is a concern with androstenedione supplements especially in women although there is not sufficient evidence.
Women with severe depression have been shown to have high levels of androstenedione in their blood.
Dosage of Androstenedione
Most androstenedione supplements are found in tablet form.
However, there is no specific dosage that one should take, but the appropriate dose depends on several factors like your age, health, and other conditions.
You should keep in mind that is not always necessarily safe hence the need for a specific dosage.
Each product comes with instructions written on the labels on how to use the product.
You must follow these instructions to avoid overdosing, and before you take any supplement it’s advisable to first consult your doctor.
Androstenedione supplements have received both positive and negative customer reviews.
Some of the people who used androstenedione found it to be very effective in helping them push more weights and increasing their muscle mass. Others found it to be very helpful in reducing fat mass and hardening muscles.
On the other hand, some users didn’t like the side effects that came with increased estrogen levels. Also, it had too many serious side effects that made it not worth using.
Health experts have also voiced their concerns about the serious long term risks that come with taking androstenedione.
And instead of increasing your testosterone levels, it increases your estrogen levels which isn’t good.
Diseases caused by high androstenedione
There are various diseases and hormonal disorders that can cause hormonal changes in both men and women.
As mentioned earlier, androgens in women are produced in the ovaries, fat cells, and adrenal glands.
In men, they’re produced in the testes.
These hormones play a big role in the function of many organs that include kidney, liver, reproductive tract, bones, muscles, metabolism, and even sexual.
In women, androgens are important for estrogen synthesis and also help in preventing bone loss, sexual satisfaction, and desire. These are some of the causes of high androstenedione levels in women.
Hirsutism is a hormonal condition in women that causes excessive growth of body hair, especially on your face, chest, abdomen, and back.
Usually, the amount of body hair is purely genetic, but this condition is caused by an increase in androgens or the male hormone.
This condition can also be seen in ovarian or adrenal tumors, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
The cause can be determined using a blood test and medication will depend on what has caused the condition. Laser and electrolysis are topical treatments that can be used to reduce hair growth.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) (Women)
PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that affects adult women suffering from cysts in the ovaries, disorder in ovulation, and high levels of testosterone.
If you have PCOS, you may have unwanted growth of body hair, irregular or prolonged periods, and enlarged ovaries that don’t function properly.
This leaves you prone to infertility, obesity, miscarriage, type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and endometrial cancer.
Poor response of your body’s tissues to insulin is thought to be the underlying cause of this disorder.
Hence, your insulin and blood sugar levels need to be checked and medication, exercise, and weight loss can be used to improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Your menstrual cycle can also be regulated with birth control pills.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)
CAH is a disorder that affects your body’s production of hormones and adrenal glands.
CAH mostly occurs when there is an overproduction of androgen in your body.
This can cause infertility, severe acne, masculine characteristics, and early onset of pubic hair.
Normal androstenedione levels
In adult women
Normally, adult women should have androstenedione levels that range around 80-240 ng/ dL or 2.79-8.38 nmol/L.
You may also find healthy women with androstenedione levels of 0.89-4.56 nmol/L.
It’s normal for young women to have high levels of androstenedione, but test results outside the normal range can be a sign of PCOS.
In adult men
When it comes to adult men, their androstenedione levels could range from 65-210 ng/dL or 2.27-7.33 nmol/L.
But, as men grow older these levels begin to decline.
High levels of androstenedione are mostly noted in young adults after adolescence.
In adolescents and children
There is a drastic change in the levels of androstenedione in children from when they’re born till when they reach adulthood.
When a child is born between 0-5 months, a girl has average androstenedione of between 20-80 ng/dL and a boy has between 75-400 ng/dL.
When they reach 6 months-9 years their androstenedione levels both fall to less than 7-20 ng/dL.
Once they reach 10-11 years, the boy has less than 7-130 ng/dL while the girl has less than 7-44 ng/dL.
In adolescents of 12-13 years, boys have an androstenedione average of less than 7-800 ng/dL while the girls have less than 7-75 ng/dL.
When they reach 15-16 years, the boy’s androstenedione levels increase to about 100-1200 ng/dL while the girls remain the same.
Ways to increase your androstenedione levels naturally
1) Eat a healthy diet
What you eat affects your testosterone levels as well as other hormone levels. You must be careful with your long term calories intake and dieting strategies to avoid disrupting your T levels.
Eating enough proteins helps to maintain healthy T levels and assist in losing fat.
Carbs have been shown to help optimize your T levels during intense workouts.
Eating healthy fats have also been found to be very beneficial to your testosterone levels and your health.
Foods that are high in fiber decrease androstenedione, which means you should reduce your fiber intake, but dietary fiber has many health benefits.
Also, maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm helps to produce less androstenedione. The bottom line is, eating whole foods and carefully balancing your fats, carbs, proteins, and get plenty of rest.
2) Exercise and weight lifting
Exercising is a very effective way of preventing many lifestyle-related diseases and also good for boosting your T levels.
Exercising regularly increases your T levels, fitness, and reaction time.
All forms of exercise from resistance training like weight lifting to high-intensity workouts are very effective in increasing your T levels.
3) Change your lifestyle
Expose yourself to more sunlight especially in the morning to increase your T levels and make sure you get enough rest at night.
Reduce your stress levels and avoid smoking.
Also, have sex, men who regularly have sex are happier, healthier, and more confident.
And take your health seriously to avoid developing chronic diseases that will reduce your androstenedione levels.
Androstenedione was once a very popular supplement before androstenedione sale and use was banned.
Taking androstenedione supplements can help boost your free T levels, energy, and help in weight loss.
Androstenedione only increases your T levels for a short time and comes with many serious side effects from damage to your liver to increased estrogen.
Instead of taking supplements to increase your androstenedione levels, opt to go the natural way by eating right, exercising, and getting quality sleep.