Virilization - what is it ... Causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Virilization is a pathological process in the body of a woman, which is accompanied by the appearance of signs inherent in men. It is associated with a certain group of diseases and is due to the excessive production of androgens - male hormones. Such a violation is often observed with a disorder of the adrenal glands or ovaries. The article talks about virilization in women. What is this and why an anomaly occurs, we consider below.

The mechanism of development of pathology

Virilization is a process that is accompanied by internal and external manifestations. The representative of the weaker sex changes appearance, the timbre of the voice. Her physique begins to resemble a male figure.

muscle growth effects

The menstrual cycle goes astray. The ability to conceive disappears. In severe cases, there are no critical days. The shape of the genitals changes - the genitals of a woman become similar to men. Such signs can be observed in a girl immediately after birth or develop much later. Virilization is a pathology in which an imbalance occurs in the body. Androgens begin to prevail over female hormones. Why there is a failure? The basis of all substances of this kind is cholesterol. For the process of converting sex hormones, progesterone is also needed to regulate the maturation of female gametes. A certain amount of this component enters the bloodstream. The rest forms other substances. These are estrogens, which determine a woman’s ability to conceive, and androgens. Such processes occur in the body of any person, regardless of gender. However, due to certain reasons, the balance may be disturbed.

What factors contribute to the development of pathology?

It is known that a small amount of hormones characteristic of the male body is necessary for the normal development of muscles and the nervous system in girls. However, an excess of androgens is not the norm. Why do some women have their content exceeds the permissible value? Such a violation occurs for the following reasons:

  1. Adrenal neoplasms. These include benign diseases as well as cancer pathologies.
  2. Penetration of an excessive amount of androgens into the body of a girl. This process takes place before birth. It is explained by the presence of neoplasms in the expectant mother.
  3. Tumors of the gonads.
  4. The appearance of small cysts in the ovaries.
  5. Neoplasms of other organs, which are accompanied by the production of a large number of androgens.
  6. The use of products containing male hormones or increasing their production. Such pills and injections are used by athletes to increase muscle volume and accelerate its growth. These methods lead to the fact that a woman has to seek medical help.

What are the symptoms of the disorder?

Virilization is a malfunction in the body, which is accompanied by various manifestations, for example:

  1. Underdevelopment of the genitals. The uterus of such women is not well formed, they do not have regular critical days. Sometimes bleeding occurs every month, but is not accompanied by egg maturation. Such discharge can not be called normal menstruation.
  2. The appearance of acne, which does not go away when using special cosmetics.
  3. Excessive oily skin. The hair on the head looks clumpy despite regular hygiene procedures.
  4. Low timbre of voice.
  5. An increase in muscle tissue in the shoulders and chest area, a decrease in the size of the buttocks.
  6. Loss of a large amount of hair on the head.
    woman's hair loss
  7. Strengthening sexual desire.
  8. Breast reduction
  9. The appearance of hair above the upper lip, on the chin, hands, in the area of ​​the nipples.
  10. Inability to conceive. If pregnancy does occur, the woman does not bear it.

Such symptoms adversely affect the physical and psychological condition of the girl, reduce her self-esteem, mood. If these signs are found, you should contact a medical institution. Examination and therapy can get rid of unpleasant manifestations.

Symptoms of anomalies in childhood

Virilization is a pathology that is observed in both adult girls and young female children. In adults, the violation manifests itself in the form of minor changes in the structure of the genitals (enlargement of the clitoris). In addition, the figure of such women resembles a male physique.

In girls, the external signs of anomalies become noticeable immediately after birth. Their genitals are similar to men's. Manifestations of pathology are pronounced. As a result, doctors can not determine the gender of the baby. Timely and adequate therapy can eliminate the symptoms of anomalies. But in the absence of treatment, it develops further. By the age of five, hair appears in the genital area. After 2-3 years, it grows on the surface of the face. Virilization of the genital organs is observed, which is accompanied by abnormal body formation. Such girls have narrow hips, massive shoulders and protruding eyebrows. On the surface of the skin of the mammary glands, armpits and genitals, areas of a brown shade appear. During puberty, excessive hair growth on the body, acne rashes are observed.

teenage acne

The figure of such patients is disproportionate. The limbs look very short compared to the trunk.

The phenomenon of virilization in girls is often associated with pathologies of the adrenal glands. In some patients, an anomaly occurs even before birth. In others, it manifests itself in a later period.

The degree of development of pathology

Swiss specialist in endocrinology A. Prader created a scale for determining the stage of anomalies in girls. The severity of the stages is determined by how much the female genitalia are similar to the male. The following degrees of virilization are available:

  1. Initial. The clitoris is slightly hypertrophied. The labia is quite developed, the entrance to the vaginal area is slightly narrowed.
  2. Second stage. It is characterized by a significant increase in clitoral volume. The labia is poorly developed. Entrance to the vaginal area is greatly reduced.
  3. The third stage. The clitoris becomes like a penis, the foreskin and head appear. The labia is deformed. The urethra and vagina have one hole.
  4. Fourth degree. The labia is fused. The skin in this area is covered with folds and becomes dark in color.
  5. Fifth degree. At this stage of virilization of the external genitalia, the clitoris is almost no different from the penis. Despite its presence, the patient has no testes.

The manifestation of pathology in the stronger sex

Usually an anomaly is associated with malfunctions in the female body. But there are cases of the development of virilization in men. It is also associated with excessive production of androgens. Such boys from birth are distinguished by a large physique, grow rapidly. But by about ten years of age, physical development slows down. The child already has the figure of an adult man, looks older than his peers. As a rule, the patient’s height does not exceed 160 cm. Virilization is associated with early growth of hair on the body and face, coarsening of the voice, the occurrence of acne. The child is awkward at the appearance of such signs and needs medical attention.

In adults, the anomaly is accompanied by changes in the emotional background (apathy, decreased mood, aggression). There are sleep disturbances, constant fatigue is observed. The hairline on the body becomes thick, and on the head - rare.

male pattern baldness

Men who have this disorder have a high risk of developing hypertension and malignant neoplasms of the prostate gland.

Hirsutism: Signs and Causes

The anomaly is excessive hair growth in some parts of the body (on the surface of the face, back, mammary glands, abdomen, thighs). This phenomenon is accompanied by a malfunction in the cycle of menstruation, acne. Hirsutism and virilization in most cases are interconnected and are explained by excessive production of male hormones. Hair with this pathology grows on those parts of the body where women should not have them.

facial hair removal

The causes of the anomaly are:

  1. Neoplasms of the adrenal glands and ovaries.
  2. Cushing's disease.
  3. Lack of thyroid hormones.
  4. The use of certain medications.
  5. Benign pituitary neoplasm.
  6. Polycystic gonads.

Sometimes hirsutism is hereditary. In persons of Caucasian nationalities and residents of the Mediterranean states, this phenomenon is quite common.

Pathology Diagnostics

If signs of virilization are detected, consult a specialist. Examination allows you to identify the causes of the anomaly.

blood analysis

Diagnostics includes analysis of the hormones in the blood, assessment of the condition of the internal genital organs and adrenal glands using ultrasound, CT and MRI.

therapy Methods

Depending on the results of the examination, specialists select a method for treating pathology. There are several options:

  1. The use of medicines.
    taking pills
  2. Surgical intervention (for example, removal of neoplasms).
  3. Cosmetic procedures. This method eliminates external defects, but does not combat the causes of pathology.


All Articles