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Virilization

Virilization is a condition in which a female develops characteristics associated with male hormones (androgens), or when a newborn has characteristics of male hormone exposure at birth.

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Hypothalamus hormone production

Information

Virilization may be caused by:

In newborn boys or girls, the condition may be caused by:

In girls who are going through puberty, the condition may be caused by:

In adult women, the condition may be caused by:

Signs of virilization in a female often depend on the level of testosterone in the body.

Low level (common):

Moderate level (uncommon):

High level (rare):

Tests may include:

If virilization is caused by exposure to androgens (male hormones) in female adults, many of the symptoms go away when the hormones are stopped. However, deepening of the voice is a permanent effect of exposure to androgens.

Related Information

Male pattern baldness
Testosterone
Endocrine glands

References

Gooren LJ. The endocrinology of sexual behavior and gender identity. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 124.

Styne DM. Physiology and disorders of puberty. In: Melmed S, Auchus RJ, Goldfine AB, Koenig RJ, Rosen CJ, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 14th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 26.

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Review Date: 5/3/2021  

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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