MSD Manual

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Virilization

(Adrenogenital Syndrome)

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Sep 2022| Content last modified Sep 2022
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What is virilization?

Virilization is when females or children develop adult male traits. Those traits can include extra facial hair, balding, acne, and a deeper voice.

What causes virilization?

Females normally have small amounts of male hormones. These male hormones are made in the adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are located on top of each kidney.

Adrenal gland problems that can cause virilization include:

Virilization can also be caused when females take steroids to build muscle.

What are the symptoms of virilization?

People with virilization have physical changes including:

  • Extra hair on your face and body

  • Baldness

  • Acne

  • Deepening of the voice

  • More muscle

  • Increased sex drive

In females, physical changes include:

  • Uterus shrinks

  • Clitoris enlarges

  • Breasts get smaller

  • Menstruation stops

In children with virilization, growth may happen faster and end sooner than normal. Virilization before puberty may result in being short as an adult. Female babies may have enlarged genitals. Young males may sexually mature too early.

How do doctors tell if I have virilization?

How do doctors treat virilization?

Doctors will:

  • Do surgery to remove any tumors

If your adrenal glands are just overactive, taking corticosteroids sometimes lowers the amount of male hormones your adrenal glands make.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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