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Androstenedione on Steroids



Androstenedione is a steroid-like chemical which acts as a precuror for the synthesis of testosterone and estrogen. It is widely believed that androstenedione has anabolic properties. Androstenedione occurs naturally in the body but can also be manufactured synthetically. The drug can be administered by mouth, injection or a nasal spray.

Because androstenedione is known to be converted into testosterone, there has been a lot of media hype about its potential as an anabolic steroid. 

Starting in the 60s, andostenedione was manufactured and has been sold as a dietary supplement. Often called Andro, it was widely available in most health and food stores. Andro received world wide attention after the Mark McGwire baseball scandal. In the last few years, Andro has continued to make news, especially in the field of professional baseball and cycling. Androstenedione Pills

In cyberspace, both sellers and manufacturers of androstenedione claim that the drug can rapidly increase muscle size and strength. These anabolic effects help to build a body which can tolerate extremes of exercise and help recovery of the body after injury. Others claim that Androstenedione can increase sexual performance, make one look young and even grow hair. There is not one iota of scientific evidience to back up any of these claims. There are no rigorous controlled trials that have been done to document the fact that androstenedione has any anabolic properties or any other benefits. All the data on androstenedione have been exagerated by unscrupulous manufacturers and distributors of the product.

Body Building

Androstendione is a naturally occuring steroid in the body that is manufactured by a number of organs including the adrenals, ovary and testes. The androstenedione is then released into the blood and rapidly converted into the male sex hormone, testosterone. Some androstenedione is also converted into the female sex hormone, esterogen, in the peripheral (fatty) tissues. In all individuals, the manufacture of androstenedione in the adrenal gland is controlled by the pituitary hormne ACTH, whereas the production of gonadal androstenedione is under the control of gonadotrophins, LH and FSH.

There are several reasons why individuals take androstenedione.


The one major reason why anabolic steroids have become popular is that there is a wide spread belief that this agent can help increase body and muscle mass. For decades, sports athletes, both professionals and amateurs have been trying to get a quick fix to their body size. Everyone wants to throw further, run faster, lift more and play better. While the exact number of athletes who take anabolic steroids is not known, the numbers are indeed high. The problem is not only in professional sports but also at college and high school level. The lure of money in professional sports has everybody pumping steroids. Surveys from schools indicate that at least 3-9% of all high school athletes have tried out some type of performance enhancing drug. And this includes both genders. The problem is not only seen in North America but appears to be common in Europe, Russia, and even some parts of Africa.


The first reason is reason why androstenedione is the hormone of choice by body builders and athletes is because testosterone is not effective when taken orally. Testosterone is rapidly broken down by the liver before it can interact with the tissues. To circumvent this problem of rapid metabolism of testosterone, many formulations of androstenedione have been developed.




Another reason why androstenedione is preferred by athletes is that when taken orally, the levels of the drug decline very rapidly, making it undetectable within a few hours or even days. Because androstenedione levels can not be measured, the levels of testosterone are measured instead. The ratio of testosterone and epitestosterone is normally between 2-3:1. Androstenedione can alter this ratio to about 10:1 or higher. According to the Olympic Committee, when this raio is greater than 6:1, it is consdered positive for abuse of anabolic steroids. Most athletes take androstenedione for a few months and then stop it a few weeks before the sporting event. This will gradually diminish the levels of testosterone and hence avoid detection.



Androstenedione Injection Androstendione is available in various formulations. It can be taken as a pill, injection or a spray. The spray is usually placed underneath the tongue and results in very rapid absorption of the drug. The dose of androstenedione is variable, some body builders take 100mg/day and others take 300 mg/day. The drug is taken for a few months. When androstenedione is taken as a pill, the majority of it goes to the liver where it is immediately broken down into inactive metabolites.
There are also other formulations of androstenedione which come as pastes or gels. These gels are simply rubbed or applied on the skin and are slowly absorbed into the body. Their effectiveness is questionable because the levels found in the body are very low. For Androstenedione to work as a anabolic steroid, it must be converted into testosterone.

Androstenedione Benefits?

When Androstenedione is taken by an individual, it can increase the levels of serum testosterone within a few hours. The dose at which androstenedione increases testosterone levels is around 300 mg/day. Any dose lower than 200 mg/day does not increase levels of testosterone. However, there is no correlation between the dose of androstenedione and the levels of testosterone. Some individuals do show increase in testosterone and others do not- this is believed to be due to the rapid breakdown of testosterone. Bodybuilding Androstenedione Athlete
Many studies have looked at the effects of androstenedione on muscle mass and strength. At the lower doses (less than 100 mg/day), androstenedione has no effects on any organs in the body. At 300 mg per day, the data is controversial because all the studies so far have been carried out in a non randomized fashion. Some studies do reveal an increase in muscle mass, and some show no effects. However, at higher then 300-500 mg/day, there are anecdotal reports that the drug does increase body mass. However, even these studies are conflicting because many individuals were also taking other supplements to promote muscle growth.

Potential Long-Terms Risks


Androstenedione as such has no side effects. The side effects occur from the conversion to the male sex hormone, testosterone and the female sex hormone, estrogen. The commonly reported side effects in individuals who take high doses of Androstenedione include:



  • breast enlargement
  • growth of prostate
  • risk of prostate cancer
  • impotence, loss of sex drive
  • acne
  • oily skin
  • loss of hair


  • growth of facial hair
  • deep voice
  • enlargement of genitals
  • risk of blood clots in the legs
  • risk of endometrial cancer
  • masculine features

Legal Implications

Since the beginning of 2001, the Federal Government and many sports agencies have become concerned regarding the use of anabolic steroids among athletes. In March of 2004, the US senate introduced the Anabolic Steroid Control Act adding these drugs on to the controlled substances list. What this means is that anyone caught with these products without a legal prescription from a physician are committing a Federal crime. Later in April of 2004. Androstendione was taken off the market and is no longer available for sale. Today, the FDA and DEA closely monitor the sell of this drug, esp on the internet. The penalities for those caught in possession or distribution of this drug are harsh and include both monetary fines and jail time. Penalty for Possession of Androstenedione



The product is widely sold over the internet. For a 30 day supply of 100 mg pills, cost is anywhere form $15-50. However, one should be aware that there are many conterfeit products in cyberspace. Analysis of products bought over the internet have shown that many products claiming to be androstenedione are infact fake and only contain a variety of harmless sugars.




The current recommendations are that androstenedione has minimal or no effects on the body and should not be taken to promote body growth. Plus, the long term side effects remain unknown. One other feature of this drug that all males should know is that androstenedione is also converted to the female sex hormone, estrogen- so unless a male is undergoing a sex change procedure, androstenedione should be avoided.


Today, the role of Androstenedione as an anabolic steroid is in question. Most of the manufacturers or sellers (esp. on the internet) claim that it can increase body mass and size. These claims are also made by many sports athletes. However, none of these claims are scientifically proven. In the end, one can decide what one wants- a smooth skin with a healthy body or lots of acne, oily skin, risk of cancer and loss of sex drive- the choice is very simple.



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Kanayama G, Gruber AJ, Pope HG, et al. Over-the-counter drug use in gymnasiums: an under recognized substance abuse problem? Psychother Psychosom 2001 May-Jun; 70(3):137-40.


Naylor AH, Gardner D, Zaichkowsky L Drug use patterns among high school athletes and non-athletes. Adolescence 2001; 36(144):627-39.


Saudan C, Baume N, Robinson N, et al. Testosterone and doping control. Br J Sports  Med 2006 Jul.:i21-4.


Smurawa TM, Congeni JA. Testosterone precursors: use and abuse in pediatric athletes. Pediatr Clin North Am 2007 Aug; 54(4):787-96.


Tokish JM, Kocher MS, Hawkins RJ. Ergogenic aids: a review of basic science, performance, side effects, and status in sports. Am J Sports Med 2004 Sep; 32(6):1543-53.


Yesalis CE, Bahrke MS. Anabolic-androgenic steroids and related substances. Curr Sports Med Rep 2002 Aug; 1(4):246-52.

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