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Classification of Sex Hormonal Agents


Hormone is a chemical substance that is produced in one part of the body (by an endocrine gland) and is carried in the blood to other distant organs or tissues where it acts to modify their structure or function. In essence, hormones are “chemical messengers”.  

Different hormones have different effects on the the body. Sex hormones play an essential role in sexual development and reproduction. The main glands that produce sex hormones are the adrenal glands and the gonads, which include the ovaries in females and testes in males.

The ovaries produce the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone whereas the testicles produce the male reproductive hormone, testosterone. The adrenal glands also produce estrogen (in post-menopausal women) and testosterone in men, both in small amounts.

A sex hormonal agent specifically modulates the effects of sex hormones and of their biological targets, the sex hormone receptors. Sex-hormonal agents may be either steroidal or nonsteroidal in chemical structure and may serve to either enhance, inhibit, or have mixed effects on the function of the sex hormone systems.

Sex hormonal agents may modulate sex hormone systems either directly or indirectly. Those agents that have direct effect on the biological target of natural sex hormones are classified as direct sex hormonal agents. Its types include Androgen receptor (AR) modulators, Estrogen receptor (ER) modulators and Progesterone receptor (PR) modulators.


And drugs that indirectly influence sex hormone systems, such as antigonadotropins like Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) analogues and prolactin releasers (e.g., D2 receptor antagonists), progonadotropins like GnRH agonists, and steroidogenesis inhibitors like aromatase inhibitors and androgen synthesis inhibitors are also sex-hormonal agents.

Gonadotropins are hormones which act on the gonads (testes and ovaries) to increase the production of sex hormones. Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormones (LH) are the main gonadotropins.

Progonadotropin increases the secretion of one or both of the major gonadotropins, LH and FSH. This, in turn, results in increased function and maintenance of the gonads and increased gonadal steroidogenesis of sex hormones such as androgens, estrogens, and progestogens. Steriodogenesis is the formation of steroids, as by the adrenal cortex, testes, and ovaries.

On the other hand, antigonadotropin is a drug that suppresses the activity and/or downstream effects of one or both of the gonadotropins FSH and LH and can be used to treat cancers, to delay puberty, etc.

Antiandrogens, also known as androgen antagonists or testosterone blockers, are a class of drugs that prevent androgens like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone from mediating their biological effects in the body. They act by blocking the androgen receptor and/or inhibiting or suppressing androgen production.

Sex-hormonal agents are used in medicine for a variety of purposes including hormone therapy (e.g., menopausal hormone therapy, androgen replacement therapy, transgender hormone therapy), antihormone therapy (e.g., androgen deprivation therapy, estrogen deprivation therapy), and hormonal contraception.

In addition to this, Hormone therapy may also be used to treat some cancers such as prostate cancer which grow with the aid of hormones. Prostate cancer often depends on the male hormone testosterone. If you have prostate cancer, you may have to opt for the ways that cause testosterone level to lower down.