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Virilization

Definition

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

Information

Virilization may be caused by:

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:

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.


Review Date: 4/12/2009
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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