Introduction to Hormonal Control of Human Reproduction

Describe the roles of male and female reproductive hormones

The human male and female reproductive cycles are controlled by the interaction of hormones from the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary with hormones from reproductive tissues and organs. In both sexes, the hypothalamus monitors and causes the release of hormones from the pituitary gland. When the reproductive hormone is required, the hypothalamus sends a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to the anterior pituitary. This causes the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) from the anterior pituitary into the blood. Note that the body must reach puberty in order for the adrenals to release the hormones that must be present for GnRH to be produced. Although FSH and LH are named after their functions in female reproduction, they are produced in both sexes and play important roles in controlling reproduction. Other hormones have specific functions in the male and female reproductive systems.

What You’ll Learn to Do

  • Describe the roles of male reproductive hormones
  • Describe the roles of female reproductive hormones
  • Discuss the interplay of the ovarian and menstrual cycles, and how both end at menopause

Learning Activities

The learning activities for this section include the following:

  • Reproductive Hormones
  • The Ovarian Cycle, the Menstrual Cycle, and Menopause
  • Self Check: Hormonal Control of Human Reproduction