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Copyright © 1997 by Academic Press. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.

The male testes have the dual function of being responsible for both the production and release of the germ cell, the spermatozoan, as well as the biosynthesis and secretion of the key androgenic steroid hormone, testosterone. This steroid hormone and others produced from it play a dominant role in the differentiation, growth, and maintenance of the sexual reproductive tissues necessary for continuation of the species, the growth and maintenance of secondary sex characteristics, and the anabolic effects of skeletal muscle growth and skeletal growth.

Sexually the male can be classified by six characteristics: (1) chromosomal composition and structure;

(2) gonads that are functionally and structurally testes;

(3) tonic androgen production in adequate amounts;

(4) external and internal genitalia that are appropriate for a male; (5) rearing as a male; and (6) self-acceptance of a male role. Thus, the male sexual identity is the summation of the four genetically determined organic characteristics as well as the two psychological characteristics of gender role and sex of rearing. Recent studies by B. McEwen indicate the key role of both androgens and estrogens early in fetal and postnatal development for the sexual development of the brain. In certain male species androgens also play a key role in mediating coital behavior patterns.

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