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Recovery of reproductive function following androgen abuse

Christou, Maria, A.; Tigas, Stelios

Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity: June 2018 - Volume 25 - Issue 3 - p 195–200
doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000406
ANDROGENS: Edited by David Handelsman

Purpose of review To summarize recent data on the adverse reproductive consequences of androgen abuse, focusing on the recovery of reproductive function following androgen discontinuation.

Recent findings Evidence is mostly based on case reports and observational studies. Androgen abuse leads to a state of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism associated with impaired spermatogenesis, testicular atrophy, gynecomastia as well as menstrual irregularities, virilization and subfertility. Recovery of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis following androgen withdrawal depends on the type and characteristics of androgen administration (dose, duration of use) as well as those of the user (age, previous reproductive function). Biochemical and clinical features of hypogonadism may be evident months or even years following androgen discontinuation. To prevent androgen-related adverse effects and accelerate recovery of gonadal function, users take androgens in a cyclical fashion and use drugs such as human chorionic gonadotropin, antiestrogens and aromatase inhibitors, even though there is limited evidence to support efficacy of these strategies. As few studies refer to female androgen users, there is a lack of data concerning recovery from androgen-related reproductive side effects in women.

Summary Androgen abuse has profound and commonly under-recognized effects on the reproductive system; recovery following androgen withdrawal may be prolonged and occasionally incomplete.

Department of Endocrinology, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece

Correspondence to Stelios Tigas, MD, PhD, MRCP, Department of Endocrinology, University of Ioannina Medical School, Ioannina 45110, Greece. Tel: +30 2651007800; e-mail:

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