What are Male Hormones?

Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.


Hormones are chemical messengers produced by your body that act on other systems to regulate growth, reproduction and overall wellness.

Testosterone, the main male sex hormone produced by boys' testicles and women's ovaries respectively, serves to help control male reproduction.

Hormonal levels fluctuate throughout the day for both men and women in an intricate pattern. Here's a glimpse into five key hormones and their functions to provide critical services to our bodies.


Testosterone is often associated with male sex characteristics that many associate with male sexuality, such as larger penis and testicles, body hair growth, deep voice, sex drive and an increased desire for intimacy.

But testosterone also plays a key role in producing sperm production, muscle strength development and bone density - in fact a healthy level can protect against disorders such as osteoporosis.

Testosterone (also referred to as androgen) is a type of steroid produced in your gonads - organs which produce testosterone such as your testicles or ovaries if assigned female at birth (AMAB), adrenal glands produce dehydroepiandrosterone which your body converts to testosterone.

Additionally Leydig cells located between seminiferous tubules of your testicles also produce it.

This anabolic androgenic substance promotes muscle growth while developing male characteristics such as development of male sex characteristics as well as muscle growth.

At the early stages of pregnancy, fetuses produce large quantities of testosterone to form structures known as testicle cords that later transition to seminiferous tubules.

Testosterone plays an essential role in male fertility by encouraging the production of mature sperm.

Adults benefit from DHEA by stimulating secondary male sex characteristics like body and facial hair growth as well as voice deepening during puberty, aiding with the formation of sperm as well as increasing bone mass growth, muscle strength and fat metabolism.

Contrary to women, who experience periodic hormonal secretions in response to menstruation cycles, hormone levels for men tend to remain relatively steady until around age 30.

At that point, there begins a gradual but noticeable drop in sex hormone production known as male menopause - although not all men experience it.

Aging often plays a part in this decline but other factors such as low testosterone levels may also play a part.

As much as testosterone may be considered a sexual hormone, it does serve other important functions that are unrelated to sexuality.

Most notably, it's essential for developing penis and testicles, chest and facial hair growth during puberty in males as well as muscle development during puberty in both genders.

Furthermore, testosterone acts on cells in testicles to produce sperm while contributing to sexual drive. Some testosterone can even be changed into oestrogen by liver metabolism while more is produced from adrenal glands.


Estrogen is a female sex hormone that regulates the development of reproductive organs and secondary sex characteristics in women, while also exerting various metabolic effects, such as regulating cholesterol levels and bone growth.

Estrogen also plays a key role in sexual response as it produces prolactin which stimulates milk secretion from mammary glands!

Estrogen production occurs mainly in female ovaries and testes. Estrogens bind to specific receptors on cells in these tissues to regulate gene transcription by altering binding proteins to DNA.

They can also be used as medication in hormone therapy treatments for menopause or birth control purposes.

Estrogen levels fluctuate depending on various factors including time of day, diet, stress and lifestyle choices.

A blood test known as DHEA-sulfate can help identify how much estrogen is present; low levels may indicate that either your ovaries or testicles aren't functioning optimally. 


Although testosterone may garner most of the headlines, male sex hormone networks are much more intricate.

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), produced by gonadotropin cells of the anterior pituitary gland and secreted as part of its secretory process, works alongside luteinizing hormone (LH) to regulate various actions within male bodies.

FSH acts similarly in both men and women to stimulate the growth of cells that nourish gametic cells (follicle cells in female ovaries and Sertoli cells in male testes) while simultaneously inducing spermatogenesis by encouraging Leydig cells in male testes to produce testosterone, along with other essential metabolites needed for sperm production.

Circulating levels of inhibin B hormone produced by testes usually suppress FSH secretion during spermatogenesis to keep testosterone concentrations within normal limits.

Levels are low during spermatogenesis while high in cases such as hypogonadism, anorchia or complete/partial gonadal failure while high in diseases associated with testicles or prostate.

FSH can also help identify the root cause of menstrual cycle irregularities and infertility, and is frequently used alongside another pituitary product, LH, to assess male and female fertility.

Females' FSH hormone is essential in stimulating follicular development in granulosa cells of their ovaries, where FSH levels rise until one of several follicles has been selected to undergo ovulation and then decreases.

When combined with LH, estrogen produced from mature oocytes helps release and ovulate them successfully.

FSH stimulates spermatogenesis in both men and women by increasing Leydig cell activity and producing an androgen-binding protein, leading to higher local concentrations of testosterone during spermatogenesis.

FSH is also used as an indicator for women entering perimenopause when their natural hormonal system begins to slow down and prepare them for menstrual periods to stop altogether.

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Like testosterone, luteinizing hormone is an androgen hormone which plays an essential role in male characteristics (commonly known as "virilisation").

For men, androgens are produced primarily in their testes and controlled by an area of the hypothalamus of their brain; additionally they play roles in sexual activity, muscle growth, metabolism and fat production regulation.

LH (luteinizing hormone) is one of three glycoprotein anterior pituitary hormones, along with follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), known collectively as gonadotropic hormones due to its effects on androgen production from the gonads.

LH plays an integral part in controlling menstrual cycles as well as the implantation of eggs during pregnancies.

GnRH, or Luteinizing Hormone-Releasing Hormone, acts to induce LH production in the hypothalamus by stimulating pituitary gland.

LH and FSH then act on both ovaries and testes respectively to release androgens such as estrogen and progesterone into circulation.

Once in the gonads, LH stimulates testosterone production in Leydig cells of the testes.

It's vital in both men's reproductive process and sexual behavior but its function varies by gender; for men it aids maturation of primordial germ cells and production of sperm, while in women it plays an active role in stimulating androstenedione production in ovarian thecal cells, ovulation, corpus luteum formation/function, as well as progesterone release during pregnancy.

Surprisingly, LH's alpha subunit exhibits strong amino acid similarity with insulin and other monomeric peptide hormones; its beta subunit however only displays moderate homology.

Their differences lie primarily in their sugar moieties which act to bind specific receptor sites on cells they target.

hCG produces different effects than LH on fetuses as it begins at higher plasma levels and gradually peaks by week 10 of gestation, before gradually decreasing thereafter.

By contrast, LH begins in low plasma levels before rising steadily until peaking around week 20 of gestation before gradually declining afterwards.


Testosterone, as one of the primary male hormones, plays a critical role in healthy sexual function and reproductive system function.

Furthermore, testosterone affects mood, body weight and bone health - as well as serving as precursor for dihydrotestosterone which has powerful anabolic properties.

Some athletes rely on synthetic 17-alpha alkylated derivatives of testosterone such as nandrolone and oxymetholone for anabolic muscle building purposes.

Testosterone is produced in your testicles, two egg-shaped glands located outside your body near the scrotum.

Testosterone works on cells in your testicles to produce sperm and support male reproductive functions, while also contributing to penis growth, testicles development and facial and body hair growth.

A small amount of testosterone may also be converted to oestrogen - the female sexual hormone - within prostate gland tissue or other tissues in your body.

Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone produced in large amounts by the ovaries and responsible for pregnancy and childbearing, in addition to supporting breast and pubic hair growth, cyst formation, fibroids development and contributing to cholesterol control, bone health and brain functioning (including mood).

Men produce testosterone through their testes and adrenal glands.

Its primary role is to help maintain lean body mass while also playing an integral part in cognitive function, blood cell count and libido.

Testosterone has androgenic effects which influence prostate gland size, erectile function and sexual drive.

Furthermore it boasts well-known anabolic actions which promote muscle growth - which makes it a popular substance used for abuse among athletes.

As men age, their testosterone levels begin to decrease; this process is known as andropause.

Andropause can result in various symptoms including loss of libido, depression and decreased bone density; it may even increase risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke.

Testosterone acts on the scrotum to form an epididymis through which all sperm must pass before entering the urethra for swimming upstream.

A small amount of testosterone converts into dihydrotestosterone which has powerful androgenic effects such as facial/body hair development along with muscle development as well as prostate issues as well as weak anabolic effects and weak anabolic effects.

These properties make dihydrotestosterone potentially dangerous when exposed to sunlight or in strong light conditions. It also has weak anabolic properties compared with its counterpart.

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