Testosterone deficiency, also known as male hypogonadism, is conditioned and characterized by the inability of the testes to produce testosterone, sperm, or both. Hypogonadism can be due to testicular disorders or issues with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. There are two common types of hypogonadism; primary and secondary, and their causes vary. Let’s expound more on what you should know about hypogonadism.
Here are some causes of primary hypogonadism
● Undescended testicles
Usually, testicles develop inside the abdomen and descend to their permanent position in the scrotum. However, in some cases, either one or both testicles may fail to drop down at birth. Luckily the condition tends to fix itself within the first years of life without needing treatment. In cases where it does not, there can be testicular issues that hinder testosterone production.
● Mumps orchitis
This condition refers to a mumps infection affecting the testicles. It mainly occurs during adolescence, ruining testicular functions and the ability to produce testosterone.
Testes are usually outside the abdomen, making them easily in harm’s way. Injuries to the testicles could damage them, resulting in hypogonadism.
● Klinefelter syndrome
The condition happens when the X or Y chromosomes are abnormal. With this syndrome, there are two X chromosomes in addition to the Y chromosome that is supposed to be with a normal male. The extra X chromosome leads to testicular abnormalities that result in low testosterone production.
● Radiation therapy or chemotherapy
Cancer treatment can do a number on sperm and testosterone production. The effects may be temporary, although permanent infertility is a present risk.
Hemochromatosis refers to excess iron in the blood. That leads to pituitary gland dysfunction and low testosterone production.
Secondary hypogonadism is where the testicles are okay. But do not function optimally because of an issue with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Here are some causes for secondary hypogonadism:
- Kallmann’s syndrome
- Pituitary issues
- Medications like opiate pain medicine
- Hormones that affect testosterone production.
- Ageing leads to a gradual decline in testosterone production.
- HIV/AIDS affects the pituitary, testes, and hypothalamus.
- Inflammatory diseases that affect the pituitary gland and hypothalami like sarcoidosis, histiocytosis, or TB.
Symptoms of hypogonadism
Hypogonadism manifests itself in different ways. Well, one of the most prominent symptoms of the condition is erectile dysfunction. Even so, hypogonadism causes a wide array of other symptoms. The symptoms one is likely to encounter varies depending on the degree of testosterone deficiency, age of onset of the issue, and the length of time of the low T. Young adults and adolescents suffering from hypogonadism tend to appear younger than their chronological age. They may also lack facial hair, small genitalia, or fail to exhibit changes expected during puberty. The results of puberty-onset hypogonadism are smaller testicular size, enlarged breasts, and stunted sexual development.
Adult males dealing with hypogonadism exhibit the following symptoms:
- Low sperm count
- Lower libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Depressive symptoms
- Sleep issues
- Reduced strength and muscle mass
- Decreased bone mineral density or osteoporosis
- Higher body fat
- Sweating and hot flashes
- Low energy and poor focus
- Breast enlargement and discomfort
- Loss of axillary, facial, and pubic hair
How can you know for sure that you are dealing with hypogonadism?
The symptoms above may point to possible low testosterone production, but the only way to know for sure is to visit your health care provider so that they can do physical exams and some tests. Some of the tests that your doctor may do to ascertain what the issue is are:
- Genetic testing
- Blood tests to look at iron levels
- A blood test measuring hormone levels like testosterone, FSH, TSH, LH, prolactin, and estradiol.
- An MRI to check if there are tumours or growths in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands.
- LH response to GnRH
What are the possible treatment options for hypogonadism?
Fortunately, a hypogonadism diagnosis is not a life sentence. Not when there are potential treatment options. Treatment options can range from
- Testosterone injections
- GnRH injections
- HCG injections
- Testosterone gels
The best course of treatment for an individual depends on the source of their problem. Find tailored TRT programs to get the best solution for your low testosterone hormone levels.
Interesting facts worth knowing about male hypogonadism:
- It can happen at any age, and the symptoms vary depending on the age of onset.
- Hypogonadism before puberty may halt puberty progression. If it occurs later in adulthood, it causes infertility and sexual dysfunction.
- It is worth noting that hypogonadism raises the risk for type 2 diabetes, premature death, Alzheimer’s, and cardiovascular disease.
Hypogonadism can be a real headache for people dealing with it. It can affect multiple organs harming the quality of life. Fortunately, there are potent treatment options that can reverse the symptoms and help people with the condition enjoy a fulfilling, high-quality life.
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