Men's Health

Men's Health

 

The endocrine system plays a critical role in human reproduction and sexuality. In men, the testes (testicles) produce testosterone, a hormone that brings about the physical changes that transform a boy into an adult male. Throughout life, testosterone helps maintain muscle and bone mass, sperm production, and sex drive. Women's ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone, hormones responsible for female development and maintaining pregnancy.

Changes in the levels of male and female hormones can be caused by a variety of factors, and can result in erectile dysfunction (impotence) in men, and can be a cause of infertility and low sex drive in both sexes.

If you have a reproductive health problem, the first step towards resolving it is getting an accurate diagnosis. For that, you should consult a medical specialist such as an endocrinologist who is an expert in reproductive problems. After a diagnosis is made, your doctor will describe your treatment options. Many problems can be managed with the use of hormone therapy.

Male Reproductive Health Problems

Hormones are essential to reproductive health in all aspects of a man’s sexual life. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are located at the base of the brain, and they work together to release hormones— luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) —that stimulate the testes to produce testosterone and sperm. Testosterone, the main male hormone, helps maintain sex drive; vitality; sperm production; facial, pubic, and body hair; muscle; and bone.

In men, important health issues related to hormonal imbalances or deficiencies include:

  • Male hypogonadism—effects (symptoms) of low testosterone and consistently lower than normal levels of testosterone in the blood
  • Male infertility—inability to produce sperm adequate for reproduction
  • Sexual dysfunction
    • Erectile dysfunction—inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse
    • Decreased libido—reduced sexual desire or interest

These conditions are often, but not always, related to each other.

May 2013

Editors
Bradley Anawalt, MD
Alvin Matsumoto, MD