Hypogonadism refers to the diminished functional activity of gonads (testes in men and ovaries in women) that may result in decreased synthesis of sex hormones. Basically, hypogonadism occurs when sex glands do not produce sufficient amounts of sex hormones and it induces various symptoms. Male hypogonadism in particular is defined as a condition wherein the body does not produce enough hormone testosterone. It can have a negative effect on organ function and a man’s quality of life.
Causes And Symptoms Of Male Hypogonadism
There are a variety of ways that hypogonadism can occur in males. It can be caused by genetics, trauma, or by natural aging, for example. The effects of male hypogonadism depend on the time in a patient’s life when he experiences that deficiency. Symptoms that may affect males include:
- loss of body hair
- muscle loss
- abnormal breast growth
- reduced growth of penis and testicles
- erectile dysfunction
- low or absent sex drive
Types Of Hypogonadism
There are two basic types of hypogonadism that exist:
Primary Hypogonadism is the result of any condition which directly impairs the function of the testicles. This is also referred to as primary testicular failure.
Secondary Hypogonadism this type of hypogonadism indicates a problem in the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland – parts of the brain that signal the testicles to produce testosterone.
An individual at risk of, or who has any of the signs and symptoms of hypogonadism should have a thorough medical history taken and undergo a physical examination, including necessary blood work. If tests confirm low testosterone, the next step is to find out whether a patient has primary or secondary hypogonadism i.e. whether the condition occurs due to problems with testicles or pituitary gland. In order to do so, your physician will order additional tests such as testicular biopsy, hormone testing, semen analysis, genetic studies, and pituitary imaging.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) – most commonly administered as a topical gel, transdermal patch or by injection – is the recommended treatment for male hypogonadism. Men on TRT will also require ongoing medical evaluation to determine adequate response to treatment. Such evaluation will include regular blood work and periodic digital rectal exams.