Testosterone vs. androgenWhat are the differences and similarities between the hormone Testosterone and an androgen?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In comparing and contrasting androgens and testosterones, it is important to understand the relationship between the two terms. Androgen is a generic term used to refer to natural or synthetic steroid hormones which are responsible for triggering the growth and sustenance of primary and secondary male characteristics in vertebrates. Androgens are produced in both male and female bodies. In female bodies, androgens are produced in the ovaries, fat cells and adrenal glands. In male bodies, they are produced by the testes in large amounts and in small amounts by the adrenal glands. Testosterone is just one type of androgen among others that include androstenediol and dihydrotestosterone. On the other hand, whereas testosterone plays different roles in male and female bodies, its basic function in both is to regulate sex drive. Whereas it is responsible for primary and secondary sex characteristics in males, its production is crucial to the production and maintenance of estrogens, the primary female hormones. In summary, testosterone is a type of androgen and the function of androgens is to stimulate growth and maintenance of male sex organs and secondary sex characteristics.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Testosterone is a hormone used to regulate a host of bodily functions in vertebrates.  Is testosterone different from an androgen?  No, it is a type of androgen called a steroid hormone. 

An androgen is simply any hormone (natural or synthetic) that causes male tendencies, both internally and externally.  However, it is not confined solely to the man.  There are amounts found in the female reproductive organs and adrenal glands (but only about 30% that found in the male body) that contribute to normal bodily functions. 

Testosterone has two effects upon the body:  anabolic and virilizing.  Anabolic has to do with protein utilization, bone growth, and muscle mass.  Virilizing (androgenic) has to do with the development and maturation of the male sex organs, facial and body hair, and the changes in the vocal cords (deepening of the voice) and the "Adam's Apple."