Spermatogenesis is simply the process in which spermatogonia, the building blocks of sperm, develop into mature sperm. Just as the female body has a hormonal relay system to produce egg cells ready for fertilization, the male body has its counterpart in the endocrine (hormonal) system’s series of events to create sperm cells:

  • Deep in the brain, the hypothalamus – a gland about the size of an almond which helps regulate a number of metabolic processes including hunger, thirst and body temperature – secretes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).
  • This stimulates the pituitary, to secrete luteinizing hormone (LH).
  • LH stimulates Leydig cells within the testicles to produce testosterone.
  • Testosterone combines with follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) to prompt Sertoli cells in the testes to promote maturation of sperm cells.

The entire process of sperm production takes about 72 days to complete. Problems with the glands or testes – along with dietary deficiencies, alcohol abuse, infectious disease and other factors – can disrupt spermatogenesis.

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