Causes of Hypogonadism

A man may be diagnosed with one of two types of hypogonadism: primary or secondary. In cases of primary hypogonadism, the testosterone deficiency is the result of abnormal testicular function.

Primary hypogonadism

Reasons for primary hypogonadism are numerous and can include:

  • Injury resulting in damage to the testicles
  • Undescended testicles
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Excess iron in the blood (a condition known as hemochromatosis)

In some cases, primary hypogonadism can be caused by Klinefelter’s syndrome, a condition in which a male is born with an extra ‘x’ chromosome. Because of the additional chromosome, a variety of problems can arise including impaired testicular growth and difficulties producing sperm.

Secondary hypogonadism

In men with secondary hypogonadism, the secretion of pituitary hormones is inhibited due to a problem residing in the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. Because of the lack of stimulating hormones from the pituitary, the testicles fail to receive the appropriate signals, thereby compromising their performance.

Reasons for secondary hypogonadism may be attributed to pituitary disorders or inflammatory diseases that affect the pituitary gland. Men with Kallman’s syndrome will also likely have a testosterone deficiency as this disorder interferes with the proper development of the hypothalamus. The use of certain medications can also lead to improper production of testosterone.

Symptoms of hypogonadism

Symptoms of low testosterone in men are generally very obvious, as proper production of this hormone is necessary for normal male development. However, hypogonadism symptoms do vary and are particular to when the disorder develops.

Congenital hypogonadism

In instances of congenital hypogonadism, insufficient amounts of testosterone are produce by the gonads. This causes the developing fetus to have improperly formed external genitals and internal reproductive organs, resulting in the birth of a child whose sex is not entirely clear.

Males starting puberty with a testosterone deficiency will suffer from a variety of symptoms affecting almost every part of their normal growth and development. Because the body does not produce enough testosterone, the voice does not deepen and very little muscle mass increase occurs, although there may be some development of the breasts.

The penis and testicles also do not develop and mature, while the growth of facial hair is inhibited and arms and legs grow out of proportion to the trunk of the body.

Table of Contents
1. Does he have low testosterone?
2. Who has hypogonadism?
3. Treating hypogonadism
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