Male Hormonal Disorders

The most important male sex hormone is testosterone, which influences sperm production, fertility, and sex drive. Male sex hormones also promote the development of secondary sexual characteristics at puberty. Over- or underproduction of male sex hormones may be due to a variety of factors, including inherited disorders, long-term illnesses, tumours, or lifestyle factors.

Male sex hormones, or androgens, are produced mainly by the testes but also by the adrenal glands. The production of male sex hormones is controlled by hormones secreted by the pituitary gland. In turn, the pituitary gland is under the control of a part of the brain called the hypothalamus.

The changes that occur at puberty are controlled by the sex hormones. This section starts by discussing early or late onset of puberty in boys, which may be a symptom of under- or overproduction of male sex hormones. Hypogonadism, in which male sex hormones are underproduced, is covered next. In boys, this condition can suppress sexual development; in men, hypogonadism lowers sperm production and fertility. The final article discusses gynaecomastia, breast enlargement in males that temporarily affects nearly half of all boys during puberty.

Male hormonal disorders may lead to sexual problems and can sometimes be a cause of infertility (see Male infertility).

Key anatomy

For more information on the function of male hormones, see Hormones and Metabolism and Male Reproductive System.

Abnormal Puberty in Males

Hypogonadism in Males


From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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