Male Reproductive Hormones for Conception
Where conception really begins: hormones.
Most of us are familiar with many of the words -- testosterone, progesterone, estrogen -- but some may be very new. While a lot of folks can certainly become pregnant without ever knowing a thing about the hormonal relay system in their body, if you're really into conceiving, this information is the foundation of everything else you'll learn.
Interestingly, the hormones which control reproduction are the same chemicals for both women and men. Here, we'll list them all, and discuss the role of each as they pertain to a man's fertility. Follow along...
Start with Your Head
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
- Secreted by the hypothalamus, part of your brain, into the pituitary gland. As an interesting aside, the hypothalamus also secretes substances such as endorphins, which can control our moods to some extent. It also acts as the body's thermostat, assuring that our body becomes neither too hot nor too cold to function.
- Luteinizing hormone (LH)
- Secreted by the pituitary gland, located behind your nose, after receiving the GnRH signal from the hypothalamus. LH stimulates special cells in the testes (Leydig cells), telling them to produce testosterone.
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
- Also secreted by the pituitary, FSH runs through your bloodstream and, with the help of testosterone, prompts Sertoli cells (located in the seminiferous tubules of the testes) to take immature sperm cells to a more mature state.
Head Down to Your Testicles
- Manufactured by the LH-stimulated Leydig cells, testosterone is widely-known as "the male hormone" (also called an androgen). However, females also have testosterone in their bodies, albeit lower levels. Testosterone is essential to production of sperm.
The entire process of spermatogenesis, or sperm production, takes around 72 days to complete.
In general, the male production of gametes (sperm, also called "sex cells") is less cyclical and more ongoing in nature than female production (ovulation). While some of the male anatomy responsible is complex, the hormone relay system is simpler.
© Tracy Morris