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Definitions and classification of disorders 

Definitions and classification of disorders
Chapter:
Definitions and classification of disorders
Author(s):

Eberhard Nieschlag

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199235292.003.9004
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date: 19 June 2019

The testes have a dual function: production of male gametes and synthesis of testosterone. Their loss or loss of function does not lead to a life-threatening condition, but is incompatible with procreation. The ultimate role of testosterone is to ensure the transfer of sperm to the female and thus facilitate reproduction. However, testosterone acts on practically all organs and tissues in the body, having many functions which are seemingly not aimed exclusively at reproduction. In general, testosterone is responsible for ‘ maleness’ and thus for all features of the male phenotype, metabolism, and character. Testosterone is responsible for the differences between the sexes and thus has implications ranging from biology to sociocultural aspects. In a negative sense, its actions can be studied in individuals lacking testosterone and—in a positive sense—in these individuals receiving testosterone replacement therapy. Female-to-male transsexuals under testosterone treatment may also contribute to understanding of testosterone effects.

As the dominating factor of maleness, testosterone exerts its activity throughout all phases of life. Therefore, endocrinology forms the backbone of andrology as the medical discipline dealing with male reproductive functions under physiological and pathological conditions. Andrology encompasses gonadal dysfunction in puberty, adulthood, and senescence, and deals with problems such as erectile dysfunction and male contraception. The object of andrology may be summarized as ‘ male reproductive health‘. Since a textbook of endocrinology can deal with only some, albeit important, aspects of male reproductive health, the reader is referred to specialized monographs for a more complete description of the field of andrology, e.g. Nieschlag et al . (1). In this volume, various aspects of male endocrinology are dealt with throughout, such that an integrated view of male endocrinology can only be obtained by referring to other chapters of this book. This chapter provides a classification of disorders of testicular function based on localization of cause.

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