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