What is Androstenedione

Androstenedione is a steroid precursor produced by the adrenals in both males and females.

It was originally discovered, and its synthesis from cholesterol achieved, in the 1930s.

As a dietary supplement, it came to widespread public attention in 1998 when Major League Baseball’s Mark McGwire admitted using it.

Intense, anaerobic exercise (e.g., sprint running), but not less intense endurance exercise, has been shown to acutely, but significantly, increase endogenous androstenedione levels after exercise has subsided, however the impact on overall athletic performance of artificially boosting androstenedione concentrations with the use of supplements is totally uncertain.

Clinical data do not yet exist to confirm that androstenedione supplements can actually enhance athletic performance.

Only one clinical study of androstenedione supplements has been conducted in athletes and this study revealed no improvement in muscle performance, muscle strength, body composition, or muscle histochemistry.

In men aged 35—65 years with normal testosterone levels, androstenedione did not enhance the strength increases in response to resistance training.

Nevertheless, on the basis that androstenedione is a hormonal compound, it is banned from athletic competition by the NCAA, the USOC, the IOC, and the NFL.

Athletes and coaches should be aware of this as use of androstenedione could result in disqualification.

Charles E. Yesalis III, MPH, ScD, has called for the removal of androstenedione from the market claiming that it has the potential to stimulate muscle growth and could be potentially toxic.

Consumers should note that ‘androstenedione’ is not a proper chemical name and products that are labeled as such may actually contain various combinations of 4-androstene-3,17-diol; 5-androstene-3,17-diol; 19-norandrostenediol; and/or 19-norandrostenedione.

Also, various androstenedione products may also contain minerals (eg., calcium, copper, phosphorus, zinc); herbs (eg., saw palmetto); or DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone).

The U.S. FDA ordered an end to sales of androstenedione in March 11, 2004. As a steroid precursor, the body converts androstenedione into testosterone, and, to some extent, estrogen and the drug poses the same health risks as directly using anabolic steroids.

The U.S. FDA has warned 23 manufacturers to cease sales or face federal penalties.

Among the risks related to anabolic steroids, the FDA cited heart and liver damage, as well as potential problems in each gender: testicular atrophy, impotence and gynecomastia in males, and abnormal facial hair, menstrual irregularities and increased risk of selected cancers (e.g., breast, uterine) in females.

Pediatric patients taking anabolic steroids can experience early puberty and stunting of bone growth, effects that are especially concerning since children have been increasingly reported to seek androstenedione supplementation for participation in sports.

The FDA continues to investigate other dietary supplements making similar sport enhancement claims. Final regulatory action is pending.


  • andropause
  • ergogenesis

For nutritional supplementation in athletes for ergogenesis

Side Effects

  1. feminization
  2. priapism
  3. secondary malignancy
  4. virilization

Monitoring Parameters

  • laboratory monitoring not necessary


  • breast-feeding
  • children
  • cholestasis
  • hepatic disease
  • hepatitis
  • infants
  • pregnancy
  • prostate cancer


No information is available regarding drug interactions associated with Androstenedione


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