Overview

The testes serve the dual function of producing sperm and hormones. The principal testicular hormone is the steroid testosterone, which has an intratesticular role in sperm production and an extratesticular role in promoting delivery of sperm to the female genital tract. In this respect, testosterone promotes development and maintenance of accessory sexual structures responsible for nurturing gametes and ejecting them from the body, development of secondary sexual characteristics that make the man attractive to women, and those behavioral characteristics that promote successful procreation. Testicular function is driven by the pituitary through the secretion of two gonadotropic hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Secretion of these pituitary hormones is controlled by: (1) the central nervous system, through intermittent secretion of the hypothalamic hormone gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH); and (2) the testes, through the secretion of testosterone and inhibin. Testosterone, its potent metabolite 5a-dihydrotestosterone, and an additional testicular secretion called anti-miillerian hormone, also function as determinants of sexual differentiation during fetal life.

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