Androstenedione is one of those substances that you regularly hear about on the grape vine, yet haven’t got a clue what it is or what it does…
For instance, can it really enhance natural testosterone production, or is that an urban myth?
In this article, we shall explore what is Androstenedione, as well as take a look at its benefits, side effects and most importantly, its legal status. Find out more below…
Androstenedione (also known as Andro, Androstene, 1-Androstenedione and 17-dione) is essentially a steroid hormone (‘pro-hormone’) that is regularly used in medicine to help ramp up testosterone production.
In fact, until it was banned it was used by athletes to improve their athletic performance; increase their energy levels and muscle mass; reduce body fat and encourage rapid recovery and growth (from exercise).
On top of that, it was believed to raise healthy red blood cell levels and bolster your sexual desire and endurance – and who can say no to that?
And this is the big questions: is androstenedione legal?
Well things changed in January 2005 when the US introduced the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004.
Under this new legislation, androstenedione went from being classified as a dietary supplement to being labelled an anabolic steroid (a schedule III controlled substance).
And as you can guess, this resulted in it becoming a banned substance by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and essentially illegal to buy in the US.
Androstenedione may only produce weak, androgenic actions – meaning on its own it has little to no effect on your body.
However, it has proven itself to be popular amongst athletes and bodybuilders thanks to its ability to boost natural testosterone and estrogen production.
You see, this steroid hormone comes with the perk of being easily converted into testosterone and estrogen (by more than one part of your body).
This means, if you’re lacking in either of these sex hormones, 1-androstenedione could arguably help you to replenish them.
Now, at this point, you need to be aware that our bodies can produce androstenedione on its own.
In women, their ovaries and adrenal glands are stimulated into releasing androstenedione into their bloodstreams – by LH and FSH – where it is then converted into approx. 50% of all testosterone and nearly 100% of all of their body’s estrogen.
In men, most of it is produced in the testes. However, little of it ends up being released into the blood because it is rapidly converted into testosterone before it can leave. In turn, it is produced in the adrenal glands, but again this is overpowered by the quantity made in the testes.
Now, you would think that if our bodies already create it, then there shouldn’t be anything wrong with taking an androstenedione supplement, right?
Well, the problem with these supplements is that they are a synthetic version of this hormone, and as such are nothing like the real thing. So whilst they have the potential to help with testosterone deficiency, in the long run they could do more harm than good.
Here’s a few things to bear in mind…
It can lead to an imbalance in estrogen and testosterone, triggering man boobs and in some cases (depending on the cause of this excess) shrinkage in your testes – thanks, but no thanks.
Another worrying theory is that abuse of this hormone/using it for too long can cause falls in muscle strength.
And women don’t get off scot free either. Too much of these hormones can lead to excess body and facial hair; menstruation issues; increased acne and changes to genitalia.
In men this can hinder puberty and the development of sexual characteristics i.e. body hair, growth of sexual organs and your voice dropping.
In teenage girls, it can stop periods from starting as well as can halt other physical changes i.e. boob development.
So what does this mean? Well, when it comes to natural androstenedione, you need the right amount to ensure your sexual organs remain healthy. But does that mean you should risk taking a synthetic version? Let’s find out…
There are a lot of theories surrounding the benefits androstenedione can bring to your body thanks to its ability to influence testosterone and estrogen levels.
Testosterone in particular can impact your body in a bunch of ways, including helping to: improve your athletic performance, energy levels and endurance; increase your muscle mass development and growth; reduce excess body fat, and enable you to rapidly recover and build muscle after exercise.
Now, we don’t know about you but these benefits are a bodybuilder’s dream as they could potentially help you with your bulking and cutting cycles.
However, despite these claims, there has been more than one study which suggests that androstenedione isn’t effective in any of these areas…
For instance, when tested for athletic performance – when participants were given 100-300mg per day (by mouth) for 2-3 months – they saw no significant increase in muscle strength, muscle size or in lean body mass (when completed alongside weight training).
Similarly, there is insufficient evidence to back up its claims that it can increase your energy levels, improve the health of red blood cells, or raise your sexual desire/function.
These theories appear to be just that – theories – based purely on what testosterone is renowned for improving.
So until there is real evidence that it CAN achieve all of these benefits, we suggest steering clear. Especially when you add its androstenedione side effects into the mix…
It’s funny how there is little proof of its benefits, yet there is plenty highlighting androstenedione’s side effects. Take all the following…
Androstenedione is ‘possibly’ unsafe for most people when taken by mouth. Amongst its common side effects, men have witnessed reductions in sperm production, shrunken testicles, painful/prolonged erections, man boobs, behavioural changes, heart disease, etc…
Now we don’t know about you, but no muscle gain is worth creating problems in the sack. We’d pick a healthy erection any day.
Similarly, no one wants man boobs – hell, the reason you’re hitting the gym so hard in the first place is to get rid of man boobs!
Women sadly are no safer. Common side effects in women include: facial and body hair; a deepening voice; period problems; acne; male pattern baldness (yep, you read this correctly), depression and coarser skin.
But it doesn’t end there…
In men and women, it can increase the risk of breast, uterine, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancer. Studies have found that androstenedione can encourage prostate tumor cell growth.
To top it all up, then there’s still this list of extra side effects:
…well that’s a loooong list of side effects, yikes!
Believe it or not, but there is no scientific data on the best dosage range for androstenedione. True, your age, health and other conditions can influence it.
However, there isn’t a set dosage, meaning you are stuck with the recommendation dosage found on their packaging.
That being said, we urge you to lean on the side of caution, as there is a reason androstenedione is banned in the US…
Aside from its various nasty side effects – and how easily it can unbalance your testosterone and estrogen levels – should you choose to search for androstenedione for sale; what you will find are imitation products who can’t verify the quality or the safety of their products.
If the fact that it is banned and comes with a whole host of side effects isn’t enough to put you off, then you need to consider the following point – there is no scientific proof that androstenedione can produce the muscle gains that you crave;
None. Zip. Nada.
It is pure speculation, and is based solely on our understanding of what testosterone can do for your body.
For that reason, if you’re serious about accelerating muscle growth you should stick to proven bodybuilding supplements that are 100% natural and safe.
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On paper androstenedione looks perfect. Easily converted into testosterone and estrogen, its assistance with these two vital sex hormones means you could benefit from improved physical performance, energy, fat loss and muscle development.
But that is the thing – it is only on paper. In truth, there is no evidence to support these claims. And until there is, you can’t entirely trust that it will get the job done.
Even more so when you consider that it is banned, has got no set dosage requirements, and is known to trigger side effects. Who wants that when there are safer, natural alternatives on the market?
So if you want to experience real and lasting muscle growth gains, we suggest giving this supplement a miss and sticking to proven products such as CrazyBulk. For more info, check out the CrazyBulk homepage.