What do male puberty hormones do?


At about age 9 or so, a boy's central nervous system issues a message: "Change!" First, the hypothalamus gives off GnRH, a substance called gonadotropin-releasing hormone. Because this hormone is present in the hypothalamus even before puberty, it is thought that a protein named GPR54 helps get GnRH from the hypothalamus at the right time. When the GnRH arrives at the pituitary gland-a pea-sized gland at the base of your brain-the pituitary gland then produces two key hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Both of these hormones also exist before puberty, but after the pituitary is triggered by the hypothalamus, more of these hormones are created.

Early on in puberty, the hormones (which, along with hormones that begin development of the testes, are known as gonadotropins) are made only at night. In later stages of puberty, when growth speeds up, these hormones are being produced day and night and in greater and greater quantities.

When it reaches the testes, FSH spurs the growth of seminiferous tubules, channels in the testes where sperm is produced. Once these tubules form and the infrastructure is in place, the boy can begin producing sperm.

LH, on the other hand, has another function. It tells cells within the testes called Leydig cells to make androgens. Androgens are hormones affecting the development of a male's reproductive capability. Testosterone is the main androgen, although there are many others.

Between the period when FSH and LH first reach the testes and the period when a pubescent boy can successfully reproduce, growth of hair along with changes in penis length and width have occurred.

Continue Learning about Endocrine System

Endocrine System

Your endocrine system works with your nervous system to control important bodily functions. The endocrine systems responsibilities include regulating growth, sexual development and function, metabolism and mood. The endocrine syst...

em also helps give your body the energy it needs to function properly. Endocrine glands secrete hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are considered chemical messengers, coordinating your body by transferring information from one set of cells to another. Your endocrine system health can be affected by hormone imbalances resulting from impaired glands. A hormone imbalance can cause problems with bodily growth, sexual development, metabolism and other bodily functions. Endocrine system diseases or conditions include diabetes, growth disorders and osteoporosis.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.