Male sexual function is controlled by hormones

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Spermatogenesis and maintenance of male secondary sexual characteristics depend on testosterone, which is produced by the Leydig cells of the testes. As we saw in Chapter 42, increased production of testosterone at puberty is due to an increased release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) by the hypothalamus, which stimulates cells in the anterior pituitary to increase their secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) ( Figure 43.10). Higher levels of LH stimulate the Leydig cells to increase their production and release of testosterone. Testosterone exerts negative feedback on the anterior pituitary and the hypothalamus. At the time of puberty, the sensitivity of the hypothalamus to negative feedback from testosterone declines, and the level of circulating testosterone increases.

Increased testosterone in the pubertal male causes the development of secondary sexual characteristics and an increased rate of growth. Testosterone also promotes increased muscle mass and maturation of the testes. If a male is castrated (has his testes removed) before puberty, he will not develop a deep voice, typical patterns of body hair, or a muscular build, and his external genitalia will remain childlike. Continued production of testosterone after puberty is essential for the maintenance of secondary sexual characteristics and the production of sperm.

Spermatogenesis

43.10 Hormones Control the Male Reproductive System The male reproductive system is under hormonal control by the hypothalamus and the anterior pituitary.

43.10 Hormones Control the Male Reproductive System The male reproductive system is under hormonal control by the hypothalamus and the anterior pituitary.

Spermatogenesis is controlled by the influence of FSH and testosterone on the Sertoli cells in the seminiferous tubules. The Sertoli cells also produce a hormone called inhibin, which exerts negative feedback on the production of FSH by cells in the anterior pituitary.

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