Objective: To assess the hypothesis that the climacteric ovary is a functional endocrine gland.
Design: Review of the English-speaking literature as it relates to the physiology and pathophysiology of the climacteric ovary.
Results: By several accounts, the climacteric ovary appears to be a gonadotropin-dependent androgen-producing gland. Although the estrogen-producing potential of the climacteric ovary remains a matter of controversy, most studies would suggest limited aromatase activity.
Conclusions:  The climacteric ovary is not a defunct endocrine organ.  The climacteric ovary is a site of gonadotropin reception and action.  The climacteric ovary contributes few if any estrogens to the circulating pool by way of direct production.  Circulating estrogens are derived virtually exclusively from the extraglandular conversion of androgens, a proportion of which are of ovarian origin.  The climacteric ovary contributes 40% and 20% of the total production rates of T and androstenedione, respectively.  Androgen biosynthesis by the climacteric ovary is partially gonadotropin-dependent.