Virilization

Definition

Virilization is a condition in which a female develops characteristics associated with male hormones (androgens), or when a newborn has characteristics of male hormone exposure at birth.

Information

Virilization may be caused by:

In newborn boys or girls, the condition may be caused by:

In girls who are going through puberty, the condition may be caused by:

In adult women, the condition may be caused by:

Signs of virilization in a female often depend on the level of testosterone in the body.

Low level (common):

Moderate level (uncommon):

High level (rare):

Tests may include:

If virilization is caused by exposure to androgens (male hormones) in female adults, many of the symptoms go away when the hormones are stopped. However, deepening of the voice is a permanent effect of exposure to androgens.


Review Date: 5/6/2019
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, board certified in Metabolism/Endocrinology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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