The human body may be host to many ailments. Certain diseases and conditions mess up the normal functioning of the body.
One such condition is hypogonadism. To know more in detail, follow up on this article till the end.
What Is Hypogonadism?
Hypogonadism is a condition in which the sex organs fail to produce enough sex hormones. Sometimes there are no hormones at all.
In males, the sex organ  testes produce a little amount of testosterone or no testosterone at all. In their counterparts, females, the sex organ ovaries fail to produce enough estrogen.
This hormone production could be almost negligible in some cases. In some cases, the initial problems start in the brain.
Thus your gonads i.e sex organs fail to produce hormones in the right amount. This condition is curable under some circumstances.
However, the cause of this condition should be a curable one. Otherwise, this condition is chronic. It might take a lifetime for treatment and to recover.
It necessarily doesn’t mean that something went wrong on the inside. Sometimes an external injury to your organs might be the reason.
Types Of Hypogonadism
As we have already discussed, hypogonadism may be a fault of your sex organs or your brain. Therefore, it is not difficult to identify the types.
In this type, the problem  lies with your sex organs. Testes in males and ovaries in females fail to produce testosterone and estrogen respectively.
Your brain performs its job well of signaling the organs to produce hormones. However, they fail to do so.
It is also known as central hypogonadism. Hypothalamus and pituitary glands are unable to control gonads. Therefore, the message  is not sent to your organs to produce sex hormones.
It is also known as central hypogonadism. Hypothalamus and pituitary glands are unable to control gonads. Therefore, the message is not sent to your organs to produce sex hormones.
What Is The Role Of These Hormones?
As the name suggests, sex hormones are crucial for normal sex drive. These are the initial reasons for changes in puberty.
Changes in men through testosterone
- Growth of facial and pubic hair
- Deep voice
- Testicular development
- Sperm production
- Muscle Mass Strength
Similarly, changes in women through estrogen
- Breast development
- Regulation of menstrual cycle
- Healthy development of the reproductive tract
Hypogonadism hinders the development of secondary sexual characteristics. It could shatter your confidence. Your body might not grow as it should normally.
Small breasts and irregular periods are reported by females. Likewise, scanty to no beard and small penis may be observed in males.
Another aspect to consider is physical pleasure. Romance and intimacy with your partner are also a way to happiness. Unfulfilled physical needs may lead to unwanted tensions.
Hypogonadism might exactly do that. Since little to no hormones are produced, sex drive decreases over time. You might become uninterested in making love to your partner.
This may count as a lack of interest and dissatisfaction from their end. From body mass to fat distribution and your voice to libido, sex hormones handle it all.
Therefore, adequate production of these hormones is essential.
Analyzing the risk of hypogonadism
The lack of hormones itself is concerning. The impact is not just limited to self-confidence and libido.
Your body might become a host to many problems due to hypogonadism such as
- Type-2 diabetes
- Heart diseases
- Metabolic syndrome
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Renal failure
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
The risk associated with males are
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low libido
- Development of breast
- Low muscle mass and bone mass
- Premature death in old aged men
The risk associated with females are
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Small breast
Stages Of Hypogonadism And Symptoms
Hypogonadism is not an age-specific condition. It may target and trigger almost anytime during the life run. There are three main stages divided based on time.
The symptoms for each stage might have visible differences. However, the impact on a healthy lifestyle is almost equally disturbing.
- By Birth
It could be inherited genetically by the offspring. In this stage, due to a lack of testosterone, the proper fetal development of the male child is affected.
As a result, he might be born with female genitals. It is also possible to develop a blend of both i.e. ambiguous genitals.
In case the baby has male genitals, it won’t be fully developed. Similarly in females, the characteristics of normal female infants are lacking.
This phase has a longer window to fall prey to hypogonadism. After puberty, from young days to old age everything comes under this phase.
So, it has a higher expectancy phase. You are likely to suffer from low libido, lack of energy, infertility, and even depression as a symptom.
If it takes a serious turn, you will likely experience emotional turmoil and mental instability. Hot flashes and difficulty concentrating are other possible impacts.
The study mentions how you could manage hypogonadism at every stage, from birth to puberty.
The Causes Of Hypogonadism
The causes of hypogonadism are many. They might be different for primary and secondary hypogonadism.
Let’s discuss the possible  causes of primary hypogonadism in both males and females.
- Autoimmune Disorders
Two common disorders that are related to hormonal imbalance are Addison’s disease and hyperparathyroidism. These may affect both men and women.
However, women are likely to get affected more. Addison’s disease hinders adrenal gland hormone production.
Hypoparathyroidism lowers the level of the parathyroid hormone leading to hypogonadism, as per this study.
The study has shown that untreated medical conditions like rheumatic autoimmune disease also contribute to hypogonadism.
- Sexual Organ Surgery
Surgeries performed on genitals lead to alterations. It may increase the risk of hypogonadism.
Injuries to sex organs are most likely to affect hormone production. Hence, it may cause hypogonadism.
It is a condition in which too much iron is present in the blood. This affects testicular function and the pituitary gland in males.
Women might experience fatigue and joint pain. They are more likely to suffer from hemochromatosis after menopause.
- Liver And Kidney Diseases
Chronic liver and kidney diseases affect normal hormone production. In both males, serum testosterone lowers due to these diseases.
In women, high luteinizing hormone might trigger the same issues.
- Galactosemia And Fragile X Syndrome
The inability to process sugar galactose is galactosemia. Mild disabilities like shaky hands, balance problems, etc are a part of fragile X syndrome.
- Cancer Treatment
During chemotherapy, radiation exposure might lead to hypogonadism. It may even lead to infertility.
- Klinefelter syndrome
The male body has two chromosomes X and Y. This Y chromosome is specifically present just in males. In Klinefelter syndrome an additional X chromosome is present.
It makes a total of three chromosomes namely X, Y, and X. This extra X affects normal testicular development. Thus, it lowers testosterone levels.
- Mumps Orchitis
These mumps target testicles. This problem advances among teens or adults. It may damage your testicles. It may hamper testosterone production.
- Undescended Testes
Testes are inside before birth. Later, they descend to the scrotum. In some cases, one or both testicles do not descend after birth.
This condition may disappear during childhood. The study concludes that this condition could increase the risk of hypogonadism if left untreated.
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Turner Syndrome
In this case, females have only one X chromosome. This may lead to infertility, skin conditions, and the absence of secondary sexual characteristics.
- Ovarian Dysgenesis
It is a condition of abnormal reproduction organ growth and can occur in both men and women.
The organs are unable to develop during embryonic development.
- Turner Syndrome
Causes Of Secondary Hypogonadism
The following could be the secondary causes of hypogonadism-
- Obesity– It is a common factor that leads not just to hypogonadism but more. Overweight individuals usually have hormone fluctuations.
- Chronic Diseases– Some long-term diseases that may cause hypogonadism are diabetes, renal disease, and anorexia.
- Sarcoidosis– It is a multisystem disease. Its characteristics are granulomas in several organs.
- Infections– Infections like TB and meningitis might cause hypogonadism. Others could be fungal and bacterial infections.
- Pituitary Apoplexy– A term used for bleeding of the pituitary gland.
- Kallman’s Syndrome– An impaired sense of smell combined with hormonal imbalance is Kallman’s syndrome. It may delay or prevent puberty.
- Hyperprolactinemia– High production of a hormone called prolactin.
- Intracranial Space-Occupying Lesions– These lesions may be tumors or cysts.
- Other Reasons– These could be trauma, medications, malnourishment, infections, and the use of steroids.
Test And Treatment Of Hypogonadism
Firstly, a physical examination is conducted. If the development of the body is not normal, the doctor will recommend hormone tests.
These tests may involve  blood tests to check for luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. If you are a female, your estrogen level is checked.
For males, testosterone level is tested. The semen test is specifically for males to check sperm count. Once hormones are checked, tests are conducted to check for causes.
Such tests may involve checking prolactin or iron levels. Imaging tests could be done to check ovarian cysts in females. Other tests are MRI and CT scans.
For treatment, both males and females are given hormone replacement therapy. It is done to supplement hormones lacking in the body.
Females are generally given a mix of estrogen and progesterone to eliminate cancer risk.
Males are supplemented with testosterone by injection, gels, or patches. In case of tumor-related hypogonadism, radiation, surgery, and medications are given.
Hypogonadism is a condition in which enough sex hormones are not produced. It is found in both males and females. It is usually a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment.
Treatment helps increase hormone levels. However, stopping treatment midway might decrease hormonal levels.
Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
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- About the Author
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Michael has been in the male wellness industry for 25+ years. Before joining Working For Health as a full-time male wellness journalist, he contributed to multiple online portals in the male wellness field. Before that, he has been an assistant to several sexologists.