Androstenedione

Share this page:
Also known as: AD
Formal name: Androstenedione

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To help evaluate adrenal gland function; to detect adrenal tumors or cancers; to help determine the cause of male physical characteristics (virilization) in females or early puberty in boys; to evaluate androgen production and ovarian and testicular function; to monitor treatment for congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)

When to Get Tested?

When a woman has excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), acne, no monthly menstrual periods (amenorrhea), or infertility; when a male child is undergoing very early (precocious) puberty or a female child is showing signs of virilization; when puberty is delayed; periodically when being treated for CAH

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?

In menstruating women, collect one week before or after menstrual period, or as instructed.

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Androstenedione is an androgen, one of several "male" sex hormones that are responsible for the onset of sexual differentiation in males and females and the development of secondary male physical characteristics such as a deep voice and facial hair. Though it is considered to be a "male" sex hormone, it is present in the blood of both men and women and is a precursor that can be converted by the body into more potent androgens, such as testosterone, or converted into the female hormone estrogen. This test measures the amount of androstenedione in the blood.

Androstenedione is produced by the ovaries in women, the testicles in men, and by the adrenal glands in both. Adrenal gland secretion of androstenedione is stimulated by the pituitary hormone adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). The level of androstenedione in the blood will vary during the day in a "diurnal pattern," and it will vary during a woman's menstrual cycle. Because of its origins, androstenedione can be useful as a marker of adrenal gland function, of androgen production, and of the function of the ovaries or testicles. An androstenedione test is often performed after results of other tests, such as testosterone or 17-hydroxyprogesterone, are found to be abnormal.

An excess level of androstenedione and other androgens can cause children to have sex organs that are not clearly male or female (ambiguous external genitalia), excess body hair (hirsutism), and abnormal menstrual periods in girls and precocious (early) puberty in boys.

Adrenal tumors, ACTH-producing tumors, and adrenal hyperplasia can lead to the overproduction of androstenedione. While elevated levels may not be noticed in adult men, they can lead to noticeable male physical characteristics (virilization) and a lack of monthly menstrual periods (amenorrhea) in females.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.

NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.

Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

In menstruating women, the sample should be collected one week before or after a menstrual period, or as instructed.

The Test

Common Questions

Ask a Laboratory Scientist

Form temporarily unavailable

Due to a dramatic increase in the number of questions submitted to the volunteer laboratory scientists who respond to our users, we have had to limit the number of questions that can be submitted each day. Unfortunately, we have reached that limit today and are unable to accept your inquiry now. We understand that your questions are vital to your health and peace of mind, and recommend instead that you speak with your doctor or another healthcare professional. We apologize for this inconvenience.

This was not an easy step for us to take, as the volunteers on the response team are dedicated to the work they do and are often inspired by the help they can provide. We are actively seeking to expand our capability so that we can again accept and answer all user questions. We will accept and respond to the same limited number of questions tomorrow, but expect to resume the service, 24/7, as soon as possible.

Article Sources

« Return to Related Pages

NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.

Elhomsy, G. (Updated 2012 September 12). Androstenedione. Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2088804-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed May 2013.

(© 1995–2013). Androstenedione, Serum. Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Overview/9709 through http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com. Accessed May 2013.

(2009 August). Androstenedione and Dehydroepiandrosterone in Serum by LC-MS/MS. ARUP Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online through http://www.aruplab.com. Accessed May 2013.

Wilson, T. (Updated 2013 June 13). Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/919218-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed May 2013.

Meikle, A. (Updated 2013 January). Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia – CAH. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/CAH.html?client_ID=LTD through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed May 2013.

Koch, C. (2012 July 12). Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/924996-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed May 2013.

Higgins, J. et. al. (2012). Androgen Abuse and Increased Cardiac Risk. Medscape Today News from South Med J. v 105 (12):670-674 [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/775869 through http://www.medscape.com. Accessed May 2013.

Lebbe, M. et. al. (2012). Androgen Replacement Therapy in Women. Medscape Reference from Expert Rev Endocrinol Metab. v7 (5):515-529. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/773774_3 through http://www.medscape.com. Accessed May 2013.

(Updated 2011 May 23). Androgen. Healthy Women [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/androgen through http://www.healthywomen.org. Accessed May 2013.

Marx, T. and Mehta, A. (2003 January). Polycystic ovary syndrome: Pathogenesis and treatment over the short and long term. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine v 70 (1) [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.ccjm.org/content/70/1/31.full.pdf through http://www.ccjm.org. Accessed May 2013.

Rivkees, S. (© 2007-2011). Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. Monitoring Treatment of Children. CARES Foundation [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.caresfoundation.org/productcart/pc/children_cah.html through http://www.caresfoundation.org. Accessed May 2013.

(Revised 2012). Hirsutism and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), A Guide for Patients. American Society for Reproductive Medicine [On-line information]. Available online through http://www.asrm.org. Accessed May 2013.

Dowshen, S. (Reviewed 2010 October). Steroids. KidsHealth from Nemours [On-line information]. Available online at http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/steroids.html through http://kidshealth.org. Accessed May 2013.

Mayo Clinic staff (2010 December 22). Performance-enhancing drugs and teen athletes. Mayo Clinic [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/performance-enhancing-drugs/SM00045/METHOD=print through http://www.mayoclinic.com. Accessed May 2013.

Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2011). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 10th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 63-64.

Wu, A. (© 2006). Tietz Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests, 4th Edition: Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis, MO. Pp 112-115.