Virilization

Definition

Virilization is when a female develops male sex characteristics, or a newborn boy has increased male characteristics at birth.

Alternative Names

Information

Virilization may be caused by:

  • Excess testosterone production
  • Use of anabolic steroids

In newborn girls, the condition may be caused by:

  • Certain medications taken by the mother during pregnancy
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia in the baby or her mother
  • Other medical conditions in the mother (such as tumors of the ovaries or adrenal glands that release male hormones)

Signs of virilization in a female may include:

  • Deepening of the voice
  • Facial hair
  • Increase in body hair
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Swelling of the clitoris

Tests may include:

  • Blood tests to detect excess testosterone in females
  • CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound to rule out tumors of the ovaries and adrenal glands

References

Stewart PM. The adrenal cortex. In: Kronenberg HM, Shlomo M, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2008:chap 14.

Styne DM, Grumbach MM. Puberty: ontogeny, neuroendocrinology, physiology, and disorders. In: In: Kronenberg HM, Shlomo M, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2008:chap 24.

Endocrine Society. Androgen therapy in women: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006;91(10):2697-3716.

Parker KL. Sexual Differentiation. In: Griffin JE, Ojeda SR. Textbook of Endocrine Physiology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2004:167-185.