The gonads have long been considered endocrine glands, producing sex steroids such as estrogens, androgens, and progesterone (P4) for the sole purpose of sexual differentiation, puberty, and reproduction.
Reproduction and energy metabolism are tightly linked, however, and gonadal steroids play an important role in sex-specific aspects of energy metabolism in various physiological conditions. In that respect, gonadal steroids also influence the secretion of insulin in a sex-specific manner.
This review presents a perspective on the physiological roles of estrogens, androgens, and P4 via their receptors in pancreatic β-cells in the gender-specific tuning of insulin secretion. I also discuss potential gender-specific therapeutic avenues that this knowledge may open in the future.