What are Anti-Androgens?

Anti-androgens are sometimes called androgen antagonists. They were first discovered in the 1960s and are known to stop androgens from affecting responsive tissues. To do this, anti-androgens simply change the pathway of the androgens by blocking certain receptors, affecting the production of androgen, or fighting for binding cell surface sites.

Anti-androgens are usually prescribed to treat various disorders and diseases. In men, for example, they can be used for prostate cancer treatment; while in women, they can be used to decrease the amount of testosterone in the body and prevent hyperandrogenism.

Unfortunately, the anti-androgens found in today's environment are now something to worry about. Because a lot of plants, pesticides, insecticides and industrial chemicals exhibit their effects, pregnant women have to be more careful when out in the open. These environmental anti-androgens can actually affect the reproductive system and, in turn, expose fetuses to harmful substances.

In Medicine

Anti-androgenic medications can treat various medical conditions that depend on the pathway of androgens in both men and women.

Treatments for Men

Anti-androgens can result in male hyposexuality, which can diminish a man's libido or sexual desire. This could then lead to a reduced function or activity of the sex organ, a halted or slowed development of male characteristics. To treat these problems, anti-androgenic medications can be given.

On the other hand, anti-androgenic medications can also be given to treat extreme male sexual problems, like hypersexuality and sexual deviation.

Treatments for Women

There is one condition in women called hyperandrogenism where the ovaries produce too many androgens - a hormone that is important to develop male characteristics and male reproductive organs. To counteract these male hormones and prevent hair and skin problems in women, anti-androgenic medications can be used. Anti-androgens can help reduce hair thinning and shedding, for instance.

One of the most common skin problems that women tend to experience due to an overproduction of male hormones, though, would be acne. Fortunately anti-androgenic medications can be used along with oral and topical pharmaceuticals to get rid of it.

The most common anti-androgenic medications used to treat hyperandrogenism in women would be cyproterone acetate and spironolactone. Cyproterone acetate is very strong and even has progestational characteristics. Spironolactone, on the other hand, is most commonly known to treat hypokalemia, Conn's syndrome and low-renin hypertension.

In the Environment

Although nobody will go out in the open looking to get exposed to anti-androgens, it simply cannot be helped sometimes because of anthropogenic and natural compounds found in the environment. These environmental factors that affect the endocrine system are also called endocrine disruptors because they can affect the androgen receptors. The production of androgen can also affect people and future generations in a negative manner if they end up coming into contact with these compounds.

Certain insecticides, pesticides and industrial chemicals actually have anti-androgenic chemicals in them, while several plant species tend to produce phytochemicals that have anti-androgenic effects, as well. Sadly, getting exposed to these anti-androgens in the environment has resulted in various side effects in animals that could put human health at risk, as well.