Excessive production of male sex hormones is observed in men particularly when there are tumors of the male sex glands. Such tumors have been observed by physicians in many cases. Occasionally excessive growth of tissue of the anterior pituitary gland or in other portions of the brain may stimulate the sex glands excessively, so that large amounts of male sex hormones are thrown into the circulation.
The manifestations of excessive secretion vary with the time when the condition occurs. If it comes on before the young boy has reached puberty, the excessive gland material may cause puberty to come on much sooner than normally. Associated with this precocious pseudo-puberty is a too-early development of all of the male sex characteristics, including excessive growth of the sex organs, the development of a large amount of hair around the sex organs and under the arms, and, even in little boys, the development of a beard and a mustache, a deep voice and similar conditions. Physicians have observed that excessive amounts of male sex gland material will cause increased secretion of the oil glands in the skin, and associated acne is not uncommon. There may often also be changes in the growth of the skeleton. In this instance, the trunk, the arms and legs are found to be short due to too-early closure of the points from which the bones grow. Associated also with these developments may be excessive and definitely increased muscular development and strength; the so-called “infant Hercules.”
If the excessive secretion of glandular material comes on after the body has passed puberty, the condition manifests itself by accentuation of the masculine character. Obviously, the skeleton has already developed so that there cannot be effects on the skeleton.
The only known treatment for excessive activity is removal of the tumor which is responsible. Removal of portions of the tumor or of all of the tumor would naturally result in lessening the amount of sex gland material. This can be measured by chemical study so that the return to normal can be definitely known. If, however, the tumor material should return and grow again, the excess of glandular secretion can be determined through examination of the urine. In this way the physician can trace the progress of the tumor growth.
Fortunately tumors of the male sex gland are relatively rare. Doctors believe that these tumors occur more often when there has been failure of the male sex gland to descend into the sac, which it normally does before ten or eleven years of age, if not sooner. Experience has shown that the best thing to do whenever there is any tumor of this area is to have it removed by surgery as soon as possible. If the tumor is not a malignant tumor, it is in any event a threat. If, however, it is a malignant tumor, the growth quite certainly threatens life itself. In fact, so definitely is that threat known that it has become customary to use the X-ray to irradiate the area from which the tumor has been removed, to make certain that all excessive action has been stopped.
If the male sex gland is retained and fails to descend into the sac, its function may be destroyed by the heat to which it is subjected in the body.
Failure of sexual gland function causes psychosexual changes in the males, including loss of initiative and drive. Some psychiatrists feel this effect is wholly mental and results from a feeling of inferiority because the person knows of his deficiency.
Sexual precocity associated with excess of testosterone or androsterone has also been noted with adrenal and pituitary gland tumors.