Hormone in males

Male Hormones: Types, Functions and Reference Values

Published: 20 September 2023|Last updated: 20 September 2023|About Assisted Reproduction.|

Hormones are chemical compounds that regulate a huge variety of functions in our bodies, which ensure that our bodies are properly maintained and developed.

Male hormones, also called androgens, play an essential role in certain sexual characteristics, as well as in the growth of muscle mass, the regulation of sexual desire and many other issues that we will cover in this article.

Types of male hormones

As mentioned above, hormones play a vital role in our bodies. So here are the types of hormones that exist and what role they play in a man’s body.

  • Testosterone: this is the male hormone par excellence and is produced mainly in the testicles.
  • Dihydrotestosterone (DHT): it is formed from the conversion of testosterone in the body’s tissues by an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme takes one testosterone molecule and undergoes a chemical reaction that removes an alpha group from the chemical structure of testosterone, resulting in the formation of dihydrotestosterone, which once it has developed binds to receptors in various tissues in the body: the skin, prostate, hair follicles and sex organs. The binding of DHT to these receptors triggers responses in the organs that will have an impact on several functions.
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH): this is produced in the pituitary gland (hypophysis) of the brain and plays a key role in the production of testosterone by stimulating the Leydig cells to produce testosterone.
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): this is also produced in the pituitary gland and acts on the testes to stimulate sperm production.

Functions of male hormones

What is the function of testosterone in men?

Generally speaking, one can say that testosterone is responsible for the development of male sexual characteristics, such as the growth of facial and body hair, enlargement of the testicles at puberty, deepening of the voice and development of muscle mass. As such, it is a hormone that plays a key role in the way the male body works.

In addition, it also plays an essential role in male sexual and reproductive health by contributing to sperm production and the maintenance of erection and sexual desire. It is often overlooked that it also has an impact on mental health. Testosterone levels can influence memory, concentration and mood, and deficiencies in this hormone have been linked to fatigue, irritability and even depression.

As men age, testosterone levels decline and this is associated with a number of physical and emotional changes such as loss of muscle mass and bone density, decreased energy and libido, as well as the possible onset of depressive symptoms.

What role does dihydrotestosterone play?

Although to a lesser extent than testosterone, DHT also has an influence on male secondary sexual characteristics and the regulation of sexual desire. Above all, through its binding to receptors in hair follicles and skin, it influences hair distribution and the production of sebum, and is thus responsible for male pattern baldness in genetically susceptible individuals, as well as acne.

It also plays an important role in prostate health. As we know, the prostate is a key organ for male reproduction. Its excessive growth may be stimulated by alterations in DHT levels. Finally, it has been suggested that DHT may be involved in the regulation of body fat in men.

What function does luteinizing hormone (LH) in males have?

One of the most prominent roles of LH is to stimulate, as mentioned above, the Leydig cells of the testes to produce testosterone. Testosterone levels maintained by LH are essential for sex drive and normal sperm production. In addition, LH also influences the Sertoli cells in the testes, which are essential for the development and production of sperm.

What role does follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) play?

Although often associated with female reproductive function, FSH also plays an important role in the male body. One of its key functions is to act directly on Sertoli cells to help regulate a process in which germ cells give way to mature, functional sperm.

It also plays a role in the regulation of testosterone together with LH. Therefore, if there is a lack of FSH, this can lead to problems in sperm production and testicular function.

What are the normal levels in male hormones?

Hormone levels can be affected by various factors such as age, general health or medical conditions. The laboratory can also be a factor. But, in general, we can say that the normal levels of male hormones are as follows:

  • Testosterone: between 300 and 1000 ng/dL.
  • DHT: Normal levels vary, but are generally lower than those of testosterone.
  • LH: between 1.5 and 9.3 mIU/mL.
  • FSH: between 1.4 and 18.1 mIU/mL.

How do male sex hormones affect fertility?

As we have seen, male sex hormones play a key role in male fertility by influencing not only the production and maturation of sperm, but also their release, and in the development of sex drive and maintenance of an erection.

An imbalance in hormone levels can therefore result in poor sperm production (oligospermia) or lead to conditions such as loss of erection, which make sexual intercourse difficult.

Whatever the case, if a man has concerns about his fertility, it is appropriate to seek the guidance of a fertility specialist for proper hormonal assessment and treatment. We at Eugin can boast 25 years’ experience in assisted reproduction and fertility.

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