|Synonyms||Sex steroid; Gonadal steroid|
|Biological target||Sex hormone receptors|
|Chemical class||Steroidal; Nonsteroidal|
Sex hormones, also known as sex steroids, gonadocorticoids and gonadal steroids, are steroid hormones that interact with vertebrate steroid hormone receptors. The sex hormones include the androgens, estrogens, and progestogens. Their effects are mediated by slow genomic mechanisms through nuclear receptors as well as by fast nongenomic mechanisms through membrane-associated receptors and signaling cascades. The polypeptide hormones luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and gonadotropin-releasing hormone are usually not regarded as sex hormones, although they play major sex-related roles.
|Reference range (serum levels)|
|SI units||Non-SI units|
|2.8 mg/day||1.6 mg/day||2200 L/day||2.8–7.3 nmol/L||80–210 ng/dL|
|6.5 mg/day||6.2 mg/day||950 L/day||6.9–34.7 nmol/L||200–1000 ng/dL|
|150 μg/day||110 μg/day||2050 L/day||37–250 pmol/L||10–70 pg/mL|
|60 μg/day||50 μg/day||1600 L/day||<37–210 pmol/L||10–57 pg/mL|
|80 μg/day||Insignificant||167 L/day||600–2500 pmol/L||200–900 pg/mL|
|3.2 mg/day||2.8 mg/day||2000 L/day||3.1–12.2 nmol/L||89–350 ng/dL|
|190 μg/day||60 μg/day||500 L/day||0.7–2.8 nmol/L||20–81 ng/dL|
|Estrone||Follicular phase||110 μg/day||80 μg/day||2200 L/day||110–400 pmol/L||30–110 pg/mL|
|Luteal phase||260 μg/day||150 μg/day||2200 L/day||310–660 pmol/L||80–180 pg/mL|
|Postmenopause||40 μg/day||Insignificant||1610 L/day||22–230 pmol/L||6–60 pg/mL|
|Estradiol||Follicular phase||90 μg/day||80 μg/day||1200 L/day||<37–360 pmol/L||10–98 pg/mL|
|Luteal phase||250 μg/day||240 μg/day||1200 L/day||699–1250 pmol/L||190–341 pg/mL|
|Postmenopause||6 μg/day||Insignificant||910 L/day||<37–140 pmol/L||10–38 pg/mL|
|Estrone sulfate||Follicular phase||100 μg/day||Insignificant||146 L/day||700–3600 pmol/L||250–1300 pg/mL|
|Luteal phase||180 μg/day||Insignificant||146 L/day||1100–7300 pmol/L||400–2600 pg/mL|
|Progesterone||Follicular phase||2 mg/day||1.7 mg/day||2100 L/day||0.3–3 nmol/L||0.1–0.9 ng/mL|
|Luteal phase||25 mg/day||24 mg/day||2100 L/day||19–45 nmol/L||6–14 ng/mL|
In many contexts, the two main classes of sex hormones are androgens and estrogens, of which the most important human derivatives are testosterone and estradiol, respectively. Other contexts will include progestogens as a third class of sex steroids, distinct from androgens and estrogens. Progesterone is the most important and only naturally occurring human progestogen. In general, androgens are considered "male sex hormones", since they have masculinizing effects, while estrogens and progestogens are considered "female sex hormones" although all types are present in each sex at different levels.
Sex hormones include:
Synthetic sex steroids
There are also many synthetic sex steroids. Synthetic androgens are often referred to as anabolic steroids. Synthetic estrogens and progestins are used in methods of hormonal contraception. Ethinylestradiol is a semi-synthetic estrogen. Specific compounds that have partial agonist activity for steroid receptors, and therefore act in part like natural steroid hormones, are in use in medical conditions that require treatment with steroid in one cell type, but where systemic effects of the particular steroid in the entire organism are only desirable within certain limits.
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