Definition - What does Hypogonadism mean?

Hypogonadism is a hormone deficiency caused by insufficient production of sex hormones from the sex glands. Men with hypogonadism do not produce enough testosterone. In women, estrogen, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or lutenizing hormone (LH) can be impacted. The sex hormones are an essential component of the reproductive system and control the sexual and reproductive organs and processes. Hypogonadism is a leading cause of infertility; without appropriate amounts of these hormones, the reproductive system cannot functioning properly.

Hypogonadism may also be called gonad deficiency.

FertilitySmarts explains Hypogonadism

Hypogonadism can occur at any point during a person’s lifespan, from fetal development to adulthood. Symptoms of the condition depend on timing and cause. Hypogonadism is more common among men, and is a leading cause of male factor infertility. However, women can also be impacted.

There are two primary types of hypogonadism:

Primary hypogonadism: The sex organs (testes for men, ovaries for women) are not functioning properly.

Secondary hypogonadism, or central hypogonadism: The part of the brain that controls hormone development, the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland, the is not functioning properly

Primary hypogonadism can be caused by the following conditions:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Genetic conditions
  • Severe infections
  • Radiation exposure
  • Surgical procedures of sex organs
  • Undescended testicles
  • Liver disease or kidney disease

Secondary hypogonadism can be caused by the following conditions:

  • Genetic conditions
  • Pituitary disorders
  • Brain trauma impacting hypothalamus or pituitary gland
  • Brain tumors
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Obesity
  • Radiation exposure
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Infection
  • Steroid use

Symptoms of hypogonadism vary based on the sex of the individual and the age at which the condition was induced. However, common symptoms of females include:

  • Amenhorrea (absense of menstration)
  • Galactorrhea
  • Lack of breast development
  • Hot flashes
  • Body hair loss
  • Low sex drive

Symptoms in males include:

  • Breast growth
  • Body hair loss
  • Abnormal penis and testicular size
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Muscle mass decrease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Infertility
  • Low sex drive

To diagnose hypogonadism, a physical exam is performed to analyze body hair, muscle mass, and sexual organ appearance. Hormone tests are administered via blood draw to check hormone levels. Additionally, imaging tests may be required to check the appearance of sexual organs or to complete brain scans.

Treatment is based on the condition causing the hypogonadism. However, hormone therapy is a standard practice. Hypogonadism typically requires life long treatment.

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