Androstenes are a group of steroidal compounds that are produced and released by the human body. They are classified as steroids because they contain a characteristic carbon skeleton, called the sterane ring, which consists of four fused rings arranged in a specific structure. Androstenes are derived from cholesterol and are synthesized in the gonads (testes and ovaries), adrenal glands, and other tissues.

The term "androstene" refers specifically to compounds that contain a double bond between the 5th and 6th carbon atoms in the sterane ring. This double bond gives these compounds their characteristic chemical properties and distinguishes them from other steroidal compounds.

Androstenes are important in human physiology because they serve as precursors to the synthesis of sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. They also have been found to play a role in the regulation of various bodily functions, including sexual behavior, mood, and cognition.

Some examples of androstenes include androstenedione, which is a precursor to both testosterone and estrogen; androstenediol, which can be converted into either testosterone or estrogen; and androsterone, which is a weak androgen that is produced in the body as a metabolite of testosterone.

It's worth noting that androstenes are sometimes referred to as "pheromones" because they have been found to play a role in chemical communication between individuals of the same species. However, this use of the term "pheromone" is controversial and not universally accepted, as it has been difficult to demonstrate conclusively that humans communicate using chemical signals in the same way that many other animals do.