The climacteric ovary as a functional gonadotropin-driven androgen-producing gland

Fertil Steril. 1994 Jul;62(1):20-7. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(16)56810-1.


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: [1] The climacteric ovary is not a defunct endocrine organ. [2] The climacteric ovary is a site of gonadotropin reception and action. [3] The climacteric ovary contributes few if any estrogens to the circulating pool by way of direct production. [4] Circulating estrogens are derived virtually exclusively from the extraglandular conversion of androgens, a proportion of which are of ovarian origin. [5] The climacteric ovary contributes 40% and 20% of the total production rates of T and androstenedione, respectively. [6] Androgen biosynthesis by the climacteric ovary is partially gonadotropin-dependent.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / biosynthesis*
  • Climacteric / physiology*
  • Estrogens / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • Gonadotropins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Ovary / anatomy & histology
  • Ovary / metabolism*
  • Ovary / physiology
  • Receptors, Gonadotropin / metabolism


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Gonadotropins
  • Receptors, Gonadotropin