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What Is Antiandrogen Therapy?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 12 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Antiandrogen blocks or suppresses the action of male sex hormones like testosterone in the body. This type of hormone therapy can be used in the treatment of several conditions, as well as in hormone management plans for transsexual women. A variety of antiandrogens are available in varying doses which can be suited to different kinds of medical conditions. Depending on why a patient takes the drug, it may be necessary to pursue treatment for life to prevent a recurrence of disease.

In men, the usual reason to employ antiandrogen therapy is in the treatment of prostate cancer. By targeting hormones associated with the tumor, it may be possible to slow or stop its growth. This can be useful as a monotherapy in men with small, localized tumors, and may be considered as an option in combination therapy with other treatment options. Medical providers may recommend antiandrogen therapy if they feel a patient would experience improvements while on the hormones, and can provide more information about the potential risks and benefits.

Several skin conditions in women can be treated with antiandrogen therapy. Women naturally produce low levels of androgens, but when they get unusually high, they can cause problems like pigmentation changes, increased hair production, female-pattern hair loss, and acne. Taking antiandrogens can help stabilize these problems and keep the patient’s skin clear. Patients can discuss their options with a dermatologist and an endocrinologist to determine the appropriate dosage for treatment and maintenance.

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Transsexual women can use antiandrogen therapy to suppress the production of male hormones in their bodies, especially before orchiectomy to remove the testes. The therapy in combination with female hormones will slowly change the patient’s endocrine profile; this will lead to changes in fat deposition, contribute to the formation of breasts, and help the patient’s skin get smoother and clearer. Hormone therapy needs to be continued for life to experience these benefits, and women need to be carefully monitored to check for signs of complications associated with endocrine imbalances.

The best antiandrogen medication to use can depend on the patient and the circumstances, as can the dosage. A medical practitioner may start the patient on a low dose to find the lowest possible therapeutic dose. This can help lower the risk of side effects that might make it hard to continue with antiandrogen therapy. If one medication is not effective, it may be possible to switch to a different drug to determine if it will provide the desired benefits.

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