Androstene, also known as androstenedione or andro, is naturally produced in the body. As a sports supplement, andro is thought to be a precursor to testosterone production and is broken down into free testosterone. By increasing testosterone production, this can lead to increased lean muscle, strength and athletic performance. Currently, andro is illegal to purchase in the United States and banned from professional sports organizations such as the IOC, NFL, and NCAA. Androstene has been shown to produce a myriad of side effects. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the FDA believes that andro may increase the risk of serious health problems because they are converted in the body to testosterone which is an androgenic and anabolic steroid.
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Andro can cause gynecomastia, a condition in men involving the development of over-sized mammary glands. This gives a man the appearance of having breast tissue and many times, gynecomastia is irreversible. Since Andro is found to increase testosterone, it acts similar to anabolic steriods. According to the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, gynecomastia is a common side effect of anabolic steroids due to increased levels of circulating estrogens.
Andro has been linked to kidney and liver damage as well as different types of cancer. Heart disease, depression and changes to the lipid profile can also occur as a result of using andro. According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine, andro supplementation can lower HDL, or good cholesterol, thereby increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Male Side Effects
In men, androstene causes a low sperm count, shrunken testicles, acne, aggression, and irritability. Andro has also been linked to decreased libido, premature baldness, and impotence in men. These side effects are due to andro increasing testosterone and estradiol in men. According to the International Bibliographic Information on Dietary Supplements, oral administration of Androstene of 300 mg/d increases testosterone and estradiol concentrations in healthy men.
Female Side Effects
Andro can cause side effects in women that are similar to the side effects from anabolic steroid use. These include deepening of the voice and disruption of the menstrual cycle. Other potential side effects in women include facial hair growth, acne, male pattern baldness and depression. According to the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, anabolic steroid use in females can cause hypertrophy of the clitoris.