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Sex steroids

Drugs & Medication

Sex steroids

Androgens | Estrogens | Progestagens

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Sex steroids, also known as gonadal steroids, are steroid hormones which interact with vertebrate androgen or estrogen receptors. Natural sex steroids are made by the gonads (ovaries or testes), by adrenal glands, or by conversion from other sex steroids in other tissues such as liver or fat. The term sex hormone nearly always is synonymous with sex steroid.

Sex steroids play important roles inducing the body changes known as primary sex characteristics and secondary sex characteristics.

The development of both primary and secondary sexual characteristics is controlled by sex hormones after the initial fetal stage where the presence or absence of the Y-chromosome and/or the SRY gene determine development.

In many contexts, the two main classes of sex steroids are androgens and estrogens, of which the most important human examples are testosterone and estradiol respectively. Other contexts will include progestagen as a third class of sex steroids, distinct from androgens and estrogens. Progesterone is the most important and only naturally occurring human progestagen.

There are also many synthetic sex steroids. Synthetic androgens are often referred to as anabolic steroids. Synthetic estrogens and progestins are used in oral contraceptive pills. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic estrogen.

Sex steroids include:

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