What Are Androgens and Estrogens? Their Role and Difference

Hormones act as chemical messengers that are released into the blood stream to act on an organ in another part of the body. Although hormones reach all parts of the body, only target cells with compatible receptors are equipped to respond. Estrogens are the group of hormones responsible for female sexual development, androgens are responsible for male sex characteristics.

What Are Androgens?

Androgens are a group of hormones that play a role in male traits and reproductive activity. Present in both males and females, the principle androgens are testosterone and androstenedione.

Androgens may be called "male hormones," but don't let the name fool you. Both men's and women's bodies produce androgens, just in differing amounts. In fact, androgens have more than 200 actions in women, and they are present in higher amounts than estrogens.

The principal androgens are testosterone and androstenedione. They are, of course, present in much higher levels in men and play an important role in male traits and reproductive activity. Other androgens include dihydrotestosterone (DHT), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S).

In a woman's body, one of the main purposes of androgens is to be converted into the female hormones called estrogens.

What Are Androgens?

What Are Estrogens?

Estrogens (or Oestrogen) belong to the class of steroid hormones and are the main hormone that involves in imparting sexual characteristics to females. Estrogen is mainly secreted by the ovaries. The placenta also can secrete a minute amount of estrogen during the gestation phase of a female. Similar to androgens, estrogen is also present in males but in very fewer quantities.

There are three main types of estrogen secreted by females. They include:

● Estradiol – predominant estrogen type during the reproductive phase.
● Esterone – predominant form during menopause.
● Estriol – predominant form during pregnancy.

Estrogen is a hormone that plays various roles in the body. In females, it helps develop and maintain both the reproductive system and female characteristics. The ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat tissues produce estrogen. Both female and male bodies have this hormone, but females create more of it.

What Are Estrogens?

The Role of Androgens and Estrogens

Androgen and estrogen are the two main steroid sex hormones present in males and females respectively. Androgens are predominant in males and have varied types out of which testosterone plays the major role. It is responsible for the reproductive functions as well as the development of secondary sexual characteristics in males. In contrast, estrogen is the main female sex hormone. Similar to testosterone, estrogen also directs the reproductive functions in females and is responsible for the development of the secondary sexual characteristics. Deficiency or excess of these hormones can lead to different disorders in males and females. Therefore, it is important that the proper androgen to estrogen ratio is maintained in both males and females.

What are the Similarities Between Androgen and Estrogen?

● Both Androgen and Estrogen hormones are steroid hormones.
● Both Androgen and Estrogen hormones are present in males and females.
● Deficiency in both Androgen and Estrogen hormones can lead to altered sexual characteristics and functions in males and females.
● Both Androgen and Estrogen hormones are involved in the reproduction process and in the development of secondary sexual characteristics.
● Both Androgen and Estrogen hormones signal transduction pathways involve binding to the hormone response element of the DNA via the formation of the hormone-receptor complex.

What is the Difference Between Androgen and Estrogen?

Androgen refers to a male sex hormone which promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics, while estrogen refers to any group of steroid hormones that promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body.


While androgens mainly occur in the male body, estrogen mainly occurs in the female body.

Main Sex Hormone

The main type of androgens is testosterone, while the main type of estrogen is estradiol.

Other Types

Moreover, the other types of androgens include dihydrotestosterone and androstenedione, while the other types of estrogens include estrone and estriol.


Males produce androgens in their testis while females produce estrogen in their ovaries.


Androgens are responsible for the development and maintenance of the male reproductive system while developing secondary male sex characteristics. In contrast, estrogens are responsible for the development and maintenance of the female reproductive system while developing secondary female sex characteristics.