Key Male Sex Hormones: Functions, Influence, and Role in the Body
Sex hormones are classified by gender; the male ones are called androgens, and we will look at the main ones in this article.
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone responsible for forming secondary sexual characteristics (penis enlargement, body hair, tone of voice, muscle development) and sexual function. Testosterone is synthesized by the testicles and adrenal glands and controlled by the luteinizing hormone (LH) produced by the pituitary gland.
Total testosterone is divided into three types, and in men, it is found in the following percentages:
- 4% free, non-protein-bound active testosterone that interacts with cells.
- 60-70% bound to globulin (a protein for binding to testosterone, DHT, and estradiol).
- 25-40% bound to albumin.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a metabolite of testosterone, is produced in the skin and reproductive tissues and causes differentiation of the penis, scrotum, and prostate gland in utero. As we age, it is DHT that affects male pattern baldness, prostate growth, and sebaceous gland activity.
Prolactin is a hormone synthesized by the pituitary gland that increases during sleep, intercourse, and physical activity. Elevated prolactin levels can inhibit sperm maturation, causing infertility.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
The luteinizing hormone (LH) of the anterior pituitary gland affects the smooth functioning of the sex gland system. In men, LH affects the cells of the testes and activates testosterone synthesis in them, directly affecting sperm maturation.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is not a sex hormone but instead regulates its production. In men, FSH stimulates the maturation of sperm, while in women, it promotes the development and growth of follicles in the ovaries.
Estradiol is one of the most active hormones in the estrogen group and is chemically a steroid. Estradiol is produced by converting androgens (testosterone and androstenedione) to estrogens with the participation of the P450-aromatase enzyme. Estradiol is also produced in small quantities by the testicles in men and by the adrenal cortex regardless of sex.