Male sex hormones in ovaries?


You bet. Clearly, testosterone has an important and well recognized role in male sexual health and reproduction. But research now reveals that testosterone is also important in female physiology. The male sex hormone is present in the ovaries and helps to regulate female fertility, most likely by controlling follicle growth and development as well as prevent deterioration of the follicles that contain eggs.

This study as well as others spotlights the role of androgens (male hormones) that are necessary for a woman’s body to function normally. The latest study, found in Molecular Endocrinology, explores low levels of androgen as one cause for female infertility in mice.

“The need for certain levels of male hormones in the female body and the strong influence these hormones have is often underappreciated,” says Stephen Hammes, MD, PhD, from the University of Rochester Medical Center and the study’s lead author. “Our findings open up a new line of research into how we can regulate male sex hormones, specifically in the ovaries, to improve fertility.”

These studies are particularly relevant to women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition linked to excessive androgen. With PCOS, irregular levels of androgen prevent regular ovulation and cause infertility. This study will likely help researchers control the hormone levels and thus increase fertility. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women and affects 5-10% of women in their peak childbearing years.

“We found that fertility problems are most likely present because androgen signaling in the ovary is abnormal,” said Aritro Sen, PhD, research assistant professor from the University of Rochester Medical Center and an author of the study. “Previously, we assumed that androgen signaling in the brain. . . was at the root of the problem, but we found that is not the case.”

Source: University of Rochester Medical Center, Medical News Today


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