LGBQTIA+ : Phyto-Angrogens - Issue #18

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LGBQTIA+ : Phyto-Angrogens - Issue #18
By Ifayomi Fasola • Issue #18 • View online
Today, we’re going to discuss Androgens & Phyto-androgens, and why they’re important when transitioning. *Disclaimer* There are terms here that are dependent on the sex assigned at birth, not the gender of the person. 

What Is an Androgen?
A hormone is a chemical messenger that is produced by the endocrine system and is transported in the blood stream in order to relay a specific message to a target order in order for it to execute a specific function. There are eight major endocrine organs in the human body that produce important hormones in order to regulate various body functions. Endocrine organs include the brain (pituitary gland and hypothalamus), adrenal glands present above the kidneys, and the reproductive gonads.
Reproductive gonads in humans are ovaries in females and testes in males, and they secrete hormones referred to as sex hormones that regulate gamete (sperm and egg) production and the expression of sexual characteristics. A group of sex hormones called androgens are responsible for the development of the male sexual characteristics and sperm. Androgens are also referred to as steroid hormones because they are made of cholesterol. Androgens are referred to as male hormones; however, that is not entirely accurate, as androgens are found in and play a major role in females. So how does a hormone titled as the male hormone function in females?
Androgen Functions
Androgens exert their functions mainly in sexual health and reproductive function, but also play various other roles in the human body. The development of sexual characteristics is controlled by androgens. In males, the growth of facial and body hair, deepening of the voice, and enlargement of the penis and testes are controlled by androgens. In females, the release of androgens kickstarts the process of puberty, where the growth of body hair is stimulated. In addition, androgens are necessary to produce the female hormone estrogen. Androgens are converted to estrogen in the ovaries via an enzymatic reaction. Estrogen is vital for the progression of the monthly menstrual cycle. In both sexes, androgens have been shown to play a role in the regulation of various other organs, such as bones, muscles, kidneys, and liver. Androgens are also involved in the inhibition of fat disposition.
Types of Androgens
As previously mentioned, androgens are hormones produced by endocrine glands. There are six types of androgens in the human body:
  • Testosterone: Testosterone is the primary androgen present in both males and females. It has the molecular formula of C19 H28 O2.
  • Dihydrotestosterone (DHT):It is primarily made in the liver, and is known to be responsible for hair loss, sebaceous gland function, and prostate growth.
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS): It is a neurosteroid and a neurotropin, which means that they regulate neural activity.
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): Is the precursor to the production of other major androgens such as the ones listed above. It is the most abundant androgen found in the human body.
  • Androstenedione: It is a weak androgen and is also a precursor to the production of other androgens.
  • Androstenediol: It is a metabolite of DHEA.
The chemical structure of testosterone
The chemical structure of testosterone
Where Are Androgens Produced?
Androgens are produced by endocrine glands and are then released into the blood stream. The main source of androgen production are the testes and ovaries. Fat and skin cells are also responsible for converting weaker androgens into stronger ones. The adrenal glands present above the kidneys contribute to androgen production. Liver cells are also involved in androgen production. Testosterone is mainly produced in the testicles in females, but in the ovaries and adrenal glands in females. DHEAS and DHEA are produced in the adrenal glands, while androstenedione and androstenedione are produced in the ovaries, testes, and the adrenal glands. The primary group of androgen are referred to as adrenal androgens.
Androgen in Males (assigned at birth)
The primary androgen present in males is testosterone. The concentration of testosterone can be measured via a blood test, and it should fall in the range of 300-10,000 ng/dL of blood. Testosterone is produced in cells within the testicles called Leydig cells. Leydig cells respond to signals from the pituitary glands via a hormone called luteinizing hormone, coupled with signals sent out by neighboring cells in the testes named Sertoli cells that are stimulated by the release of follicle stimulating hormone from the pituitary. Testosterone plays a major role in driving the process of sperm production, or spermatogenesis, in the testes and specifically in a structure called the seminiferous tubules.
Androgens in Females (Assigned at birth)
Androgen are present in females in much smaller amounts than males; it is estimated that the female body produces one tenth to one twentieth the concentration of androgen that is found in males. The most abundant androgen in the female body is DHEAS at a normal concentration of 145 to 395 micrograms/dL. The least abundant androgen in females are testosterone and DHT at concentrations of 15-70 ng/dL and 2.6-26.5 respectively. DHEAS carries out various functions such as bone mass regulation and acts as a precursor to produce other important androgens in addition to female hormones such as estrogen.
Androgen-Related Disorders
As previously discusses, androgens are present in both male and female bodies, and should be within the aforementioned ranges. Too high or too low androgen concentration results in a myriad of medical complications.
High Androgen Levels
In men, higher levels of androgens, especially testosterone, can cause a variety of symptoms. Increased testosterone leads to excessive body hair growth, increased sexual drive, mood irritability, acne and oily skin, headaches, and risky or angry behavior. This can be caused by genetic factors by tumors in the testes. In females, high levels of androgens causes decreased sex drive, increased body hair, swollen clitoris, irregular periods, and increased muscle mass. The primary cause of increased androgens in females is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is when the follicles that contain immature eggs in the ovary become fluid filled.
Low Androgen Levels
In men, lower levels of androgen can cause symptoms like fatigue, hot flashes, lower sex drive, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, increased body fat, and memory impairment. This can be caused by a variety of factors such as trauma or infection in the testes or old age. In females, low levels of androgens can cause similar symptoms. Low androgen concentration usually occurs in women around when they reach menopausal age.
Treatments for High and Low Androgen Levels
Treatment for high androgen levels in females involves the prescription of medication, such as metformin, and in some cases, oral contraception is administered; however, low androgen can be treated by weight loss, or by injectable testosterone supplements usually combined with estrogen. In males, low androgen levels are treated with testosterone administration in the form of skin patches or implants. This is referred to as testosterone replacement therapy. Similar to low androgen in females, high androgen concentrations can be treated by drugs such as metformin and statins.
Androgenic Effects
Taking androgenic supplements are common among individuals who aim to boost their body mass through exercise. However, this comes with a list of side effects referred to as androgenic effects. In males, the androgenic effects include infertility, breast and prostate enlargement, and increased aggression. In females, androgenic exposure leads to acne, weight gain, and fluid retention.
What are Phyto-androgens?
Phytoandrogens are foods or nutrients that acts as a natural precursor of male hormones. They bind to testosterone receptors in the body. This is important because if there is an increase of testosterone receptors in the body, the more testosterone you would produce.
What this means is, there will be: 
  • increase progesterone and testosterone/decrease in estrogen
  • increase masculine secondary sex characteristics such as:
  • hair growth
  • lower voice
  • build muscle
  • increase libido (won’t stop manstruation)
Here are some herbs that are considered Phyto-androgens:
  • Celery
  • cucumber
  • corn
  • kale
  • radishes
  • garlic
  • rosemary
  • parsley
  • thyme
  • oats
  • pine nuts
  • red meat (hormone free!)
  • oysters
  • basil
  • pumpkin seeds
  • spirulina
  • pomegranate juice
As the weeks progress, we’ll be going over each of these herbs individually, and how to best use them. 
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Ifayomi Fasola

I’m Iya Ifayomi! She/Her. Onisegun. Herbalist. Isese. Ifa, Egbe, & Olokun priestess. Rootworker. Mvskokxe. 2 headed. Bone Reader 🦴 Venmo:@ifayomifasola

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