Adverse Effects

Adverse effects are mainly those to be expected of a male sex hormone (including hypothalamic-pituitary suppression of gonadotrophin production); increased libido may lead to undesirable sexual activity, especially in mentally unstable patients, and virilisation is obviously undesired by most women. Androgens have a weak salt and water retaining activity, which is not often clinically important. Liver injury (cholestatic) can occur, particularly with 17 a-alkyl derivatives (ethylestrenol, stanozolol, danazol, oxymetholone); it is reversible; these agents should be avoided in hepatic disease.

Effects on blood lipids are complex and variable, and the balance may be to disadvantage.

In patients with malignant disease of bone androgen administration may be followed by hypercalcemia. The less virilising androgens are used to promote anabolism and are discussed below.

Antiandrogens (androgen antagonists)

Plainly oestrogens and progestogens are physiological antagonists to androgens. But compounds which compete selectively for androgen receptors have been made.

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