Aging of the human ovary and testis

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009 Feb 5;299(1):2-13. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2008.11.004. Epub 2008 Nov 18.


Aging is associated with structural and functional alterations in all organs of the human body. The aging of gonads represents in this respect a special case, because these organs are not functional for the whole lifespan of an individual and their normal function is not indispensable for functions of the rest of the body. Ovarian function lasts for the reproductive life of a woman, i.e., from menarche until menopause. The testicular endocrine function, in contrast, begins already in utero, is interrupted between neonatal life and puberty, and continues thereafter along with spermatogenesis, with only slight decline, until old age. The aging processes of the ovary and testis are therefore very different. We describe in this review the structural and functional alterations in the human ovary and testis upon aging. Special emphasis will be given to clinically significant alterations, which in women concern the causes and consequences of the individual variability of fertility during the latter part of the reproductive age. The clinically important aspect of testicular aging entails the decline of androgen production in aging men.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Endocrine System / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ovary / anatomy & histology
  • Ovary / cytology
  • Ovary / physiology*
  • Reproduction / genetics
  • Reproduction / physiology
  • Testis / anatomy & histology
  • Testis / cytology
  • Testis / physiology*