Hormonal basis of biological sex differences in human athletic performance

Jonathon W Senefeld, Sandra K Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Biological sex is a primary determinant of athletic human performance involving strength, power, speed, and aerobic endurance and is more predictive of athletic performance than gender. This perspective article highlights three key medical and physiological insights related to recent evolving research into the sex differences in human physical performance: (1) sex and gender are not the same; (2) males and females exhibit profound differences in physical performance with males outperforming females in events and sports involving strength, power, speed and aerobic endurance; (3) endogenous testosterone underpins sex differences in human physical performance with questions remaining on the roles of minipuberty in the sex differences in performance in prepubescent youth and the presence of the Y chromosome (SRY gene expression) in males, on athletic performance across all ages. Last, females are underrepresented as participants in biomedical research which has led to an historical dearth of information on the mechanisms for sex differences in human physical performance and the capabilities of the female body. Collectively, greater effort and resources are needed to address the hormonal mechanisms for biological sex differences in human athletic performance before and after puberty.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberbqae036
JournalEndocrinology
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - Apr 2 2024

Keywords

  • sex
  • athletics
  • sex chromosomes
  • testosterone
  • physical performance
  • gender

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