The gonads are the main source of sex hormones. Most people don’t realise it, but both males and females have gonads.
In male the gonads, or testes (pronounced: TES-teez), are located in the scrotum. They secrete hormones called androgens (pronounced: AN-druh-junz), the most important of which is testosterone (pronounced: tess-TOSS-tuh-rone). These hormones tell a male’ body when it’s time to make the changes associated with puberty, like penis and height growth, deepening voice, and growth in facial and pubic hair. Working with hormones from the pituitary gland, testosterone also tells a male’s body when it’s time to produce sperm in the testes.
A female’s gonads, the ovaries (pronounced: OH-vuh-reez), are located in her pelvis. They produce eggs and secrete the female hormones oestrogen (pronounced: ESS-truh-jen) and progesterone (pronounced: pro-JESS-tuh-rone). Oestrogen is involved when a female begins to go through puberty. During puberty, a female will experience breast growth, will begin to accumulate body fat around the hips and thighs, and will have a growth spurt. Oestrogen and progesterone are also involved in the regulation of a girl’s menstrual cycle. These hormones also play a role in pregnancy.
What if it goes wrong?
Precocious puberty. If the pituitary glands release hormones that stimulate the gonads to produce sex hormones too early, some children may begin to go through puberty at a very young age. This condition is called precocious puberty. People who are affected by precocious puberty can be treated with medication that will help them develop at a normal rate.
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