Vol 63, Supp. I (2012)
Review paper
Published online: 2012-12-31

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Psychological stress and the function of male gonads

Paweł Jóźków, Marek Mędraś


Stress is generally a natural phenomenon that affects behaviour, physiological processes, and neuroendocrine, neurochemical, neurological and immune responses. Many somatic and mental disorders are thought to result from chronic stress. Stress-induced gonadal dysfunction is not restricted to humans, but is observed in all higher animals. Stress-induced gonadal dysfunction comprises disturbances of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis and of spermatogenesis. Various stressors induce changes in the secretion of neurotransmitters and hormones, such as CRH, ADH, beta-endorphins, somatostatin, VIP, PRL, GH, TSH, dopamine, serotonin, neuropeptide Y, melatonin, ACTH, glucocorticosteroids, catecholamines and androgens. In acute stress, testicular function is principally modified by cytokines and fluctuating concentrations of gonadotropins, while in chronic stress, hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and disruption of spermatogenesis of varying severity, including spermatogenetic arrest, are observed. In spite of the decades-long interest in the relationships between psychological stress and the function of male gonads, many questions in this area remain unanswered. (Pol J Endocrinol 2012; 63 (zeszyt edukacyjny I) 1–6)

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