Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the endocrine glands and are secreted directly into the blood. These help in regulating different bodily functions such as sleep, appetite, growth, etc. For instance, the growth hormones regulate the growth and development of the body, while the sex hormones are crucial for sexual development,
Let us explore in detail what are sex hormones and their role in reproduction.
What are Sex Hormones?
Sex hormones play a key role in reproduction and sexual development. These are mainly produced by the gonads and adrenal glands. The sex hormones are generally involved in:
- Reproduction and sexual development
- Inflammatory responses
- Promoting hair growth
- Regulating cholesterol levels
- Body fat distribution
The levels of sex hormones keep fluctuating the entire life. These fluctuations can lead to health issues such as hair loss, bone loss, infertility, etc.
There are several factors that affect the levels of these hormones. These include:
Also Read: Hormones
Female Sex Hormones
In females, the sex hormones are released by the ovaries and adrenal glands. The main sex hormones in females include – progesterone, estrogen, and small amounts of testosterone.
The hormone progesterone is produced by the adrenal glands, ovaries and placenta. The progesterone levels are higher during ovulation and it fastens during pregnancy. Progesterone also stabilizes the menstrual cycle and prepares the body for pregnancy.
Low level of progesterone leads to an imbalance in the menstrual cycle and complications during pregnancy.
Estrogen is widely released by the ovaries. Only a small amount of estrogen is released by the adrenal glands and fat cells. It is responsible for sexual and reproductive development during puberty.
A very small amount of testosterone is produced in females. It affects menstruation, fertility, RBC production, and bone and tissue mass.
Also Read: Female Hormones
Male Sex Hormones
Testosterone is the only male sex hormone responsible for sexual and reproductive development. It belongs to a class of male hormones called androgens that are also known as steroids. It is mainly produced in the testes with a very small amount produced in the adrenal glands.
The testosterone production is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. It is responsible for the development of male sex organs during birth and development of secondary sexual characteristics during puberty.
The testosterone levels gradually decrease with age. It results in impotence, low sperm count, shrunken testes, depression, irritability, etc.
Functions of Sex Hormones
Following are the important functions of sex hormones:
Sex Hormones at Puberty
Puberty leads to many changes in the body both in boys and girls. Development of secondary sexual characteristics is one of the major changes that occur during adolescence.
Endocrine system or endocrine glands are a group of glands that secrete some chemicals into the blood. These chemicals released by endocrine glands are called hormones. These hormones are responsible for the changes during puberty.
During adolescence male testis and female ovaries mature. The matured gonads (sex organs) begin to secrete hormones. These hormones are called sex hormones. They are responsible for the changes during puberty and the development of secondary sexual characteristics in males and females.
In males, the appearance of facial hair, and hair growth on the chest and pubic region begins. While in females, the development of mammary glands and onset of menstruation occurs during puberty. The overall secretion of sex hormones is controlled by the pituitary gland.
Also Read: Difference between estrogen and progesterone
Sex Hormones in Initiating Reproductive Function
Endocrine glands release hormones directly into the blood. The level of a particular hormone may cause a huge difference in the actions and functions of our body. Hence, hormones are secreted as per the requirements of our body.
Hormones work through a feedback mechanism. The organ to which the hormone is targeted is called the target organ (target site). The target site and the hormones correspond to each other; hormones are highly specific in their action. The hormones act on their target site and lead to reproductive changes in us.
Also Read: Hormonal Disorders
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