Hormones are produced by the glands, and they impact a number of bodily functions. And while men and women share many of the same hormones that perform the same functions, there are other hormones that are present in greater volume in either men or women. In many instances, these hormones help create the physiological differences and distinctions in sexual activity between men and women.
Male Sex Hormones
In men, the hormones that play the greatest role in sexual development and processes are known as androgens. These are also present in women, but they play a greater role in men. The main androgens are testosterone and androstenedione, but DHT, DHEA and DHEA-S are other important androgens.
Testosterone is produced by the male body even before birth, as it plays a role in the formation of the male sex organs. Throughout a man’s life, it is the driving force behind life changes such as puberty, including the growth of body hair and the sex organs. It also contributes to a man’s muscle development, sex drive and emotions. Just like estrogen in women, testosterone levels can begin to fall as a man grows older, but it’s uncommon for men to experience a significant drop like women do with menopause. Very low or high testosterone are typically seen as medical problems that can be treated by a health care provider.
Interestingly, these hormones, though present in smaller amounts, also play a role in women’s bodies. If women have too high of levels of certain androgens, however, this can lead to undesirable symptoms and may need to be treated medically. In some cases, male hormones are also used as a medical treatment for certain conditions. For example, they may be used to treat breast cancer in women or to boost low testosterone levels in men.
SOURCES: National Cancer Institute; Healthy Women; Your Sex Health; American Cancer Society.
Men with age-related low testosterone should only be given hormone treatment for sexual dysfunction.
Long-term opioid use may cause hormone deficiencies.
Men with high levels of testosterone at increased risk of heart trouble.