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Pediatric Sexual Development



The gonads (sex glands) are the main source of sex hormones in males and females.

In males, they are called testes and they secrete androgen hormones. The most important of these is testosterone.

These hormones function to regulate the body changes associated with puberty.

  • Enlargement of the penis
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Growth of facial and pubic hair
  • Increased muscle strength

In tandem with hormones from the pituitary gland, testosterone also is vital in the production of sperm in the testes.

In girls, the gonads are the ovaries, which are found in the pelvis. They produce eggs and secrete female hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is involved in developing sexual features such as:

  • Breast growth
  • Accumulation of body fat around the hips and thighs
  • The growth spurt that occurs at puberty

Both hormones regulate the menstrual cycle and support pregnancy.

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