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Male sex hormones in ovaries essential for female fertility
Date:5/26/2010

Male sex hormones, such as testosterone, have well defined roles in male reproduction and prostate cancer. What may surprise many is that they also play an important role in female fertility. A new study finds that the presence and activity of male sex hormones in the ovaries helps regulate female fertility, likely by controlling follicle growth and development and preventing deterioration of follicles that contain growing eggs.

This study and others highlight the fact that women need certain levels of male hormones, or androgens, in their bodies to function normally. The current study, published today in the journal Molecular Endocrinology, points to irregular androgen levels in the ovaries of female mice as a major cause of infertility. Understanding how male hormones influence ovulation in mice may provide clues as to how to better regulate androgens and combat infertility in humans.

"The need for certain levels of male hormones in the female body and the strong influence these hormones have is often underappreciated," said Stephen Hammes, M.D., Ph.D., Louis S. Wolk Distinguished Professorship in Medicine (Endocrinology and Metabolism) at the University of Rochester Medical Center and a lead author of the study. "Our findings open up a new line of research into how we can regulate male sex hormones, specifically in the ovaries, to improve fertility."

These findings are relevant to women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition characterized by androgen excess. PCOS is marked by the overproduction of male hormones and causes ovarian changes that prohibit regular ovulation, often contributing to infertility. Hammes, chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Rochester, believes that better understanding the overall effects of androgen levels in the ovary may help researchers determine how to target and control the increased levels that lead to fertility problems in wome
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Contact: Emily Butler
emily_butler@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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