What Is the Function of Gonads?

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the primary functions of gonads in men and women are to secret hormones and to produce sperm and ova. In men, the gonads are the testes, and in women, the gonads are the ovaries. The gonads are considered endocrine glands because they release hormones.

The University of Rochester Medical Center states that the male gonads are responsible for releasing the male sex hormone testosterone. Testosterone helps the male body to mature its skeletal and muscular system, develop the reproductive organs, enlarge the larynx, grow body hair and increase the male sex drive. Testosterone is responsible for the development of male characteristics. The testes also produce and release sperm for sexual reproduction. Testosterone begins to work shortly after birth, tapers off during childhood and then continues to produce regularly from puberty throughout adulthood.

The University of Rochester Medical Center explains that the female gonads secrete estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen facilitates puberty, fat storage and the development of the uterus and vagina. Progesterone thickens the lining in the uterus to prepare for pregnancy. Both progesterone and estrogen control fertility and the menstrual cycle. The ovaries produce and release the ova, or egg, for sexual reproduction.