Gonads make the hormones T & E

The hormones Testosterone and Estrogen (T&E) are mostly made in the gonads.


During childhood, the gonads don’t make a lot of hormones. But right before puberty, gonads grow and start making a lot more of them.

  • Gonads called testes generally give the body T. Some of this T can change into the hormone E (the process of changing T into E is called ‘aromatization.’)
  • Gonads called ovaries generally give the body E and some T.

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Why are testes and ovaries called gonads? Do they come from the same tissue?

Ovaries and testes come from the same exact tissue early in the growth of the baby—it is universal tissue. The body changes the gonads from weeks 6-8 in the womb to become testes and ovaries. How they change while in the womb depends on the signals they receive from genes. Talk to your doctor more on how yours developed, if you are interested.

Are gonads either testes or ovaries or are there other kinds of gonads people have?

Yes! There are many different types of gonads. Some DSD variations make different types of gonads. Here are some examples:

One type called ovo-testes shares both ovary and testis tissue.

Another type called streak gonads aren’t really making hormones or eggs/sperm at all—this happens in a condition called gonadal dysgenesis.

Another type that has some streak tissue but also some typical tissue that can make hormones and potentially sperm—this happens in partial gonadal dysgenesis.

With some conditions, testes may not be as big and may not produce sperm, for example, in complete androgen insensitivity, most partial androgen insensitivity, and potentially 5 Alpha Reductase deficiency/17 Beta HSD.

Can other parts of the body make T?

Some T can be made outside of the testes or ovaries. Most of the time, this happens in small amounts in a place called the adrenal glands. Some of the time, the body can make a lot of T with the adrenals, like in a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia.