Male hypogonadism is a disease which is characterized by insufficient production of the male hormone testosterone in the body. This leads to reduced secretion of sperms during ejaculation. It can be caused due to hypothalamic or pituitary disorders or testicular diseases or both. It can develop after an injury or infection to male gonads. The main signs and symptoms of the disease are underdeveloped male genitals, muscle mass, impaired hair growth, development of breast tissue, infertility and erectile dysfunction. This condition can easily be treated with testosterone replacement therapy.
How Is Male Hypogonadism Diagnosed?
Male hypogonadism is a chronic condition marked by a deficiency of testosterone in the body. It is also called gonad deficiency or andropause. It results in a decrease in sperm production. It can happen at any age with different symptoms. If it starts before puberty, then it causes a delay in the puberty and if it starts after puberty, it may result in infertility and sexual dysfunction.
Male hypogonadism is diagnosed by detailed medical history, symptoms available, physical examination and certain tests including blood tests. Your doctor will perform a physical examination to assess the presence of pubic hair, muscle mass and the size of male gonads i.e. testes proportionate to your age. Blood tests are performed to know the level of testosterone in the blood. If its level drops under 300 nanograms per deciliter, then the condition is considered as hypogonadism. The test is usually recommended in the early morning before 10 a.m. as the levels of testosterone is highest in the morning.
If the levels of testosterone come below the normal level, then other tests are suggested to confirm the diagnosis of male hypogonadism; these are-
- Semen analysis
- Hormone testing
- Pituitary imaging
- Testicular biopsy
- Genetic studies
These tests determine the exact cause of the disease. This will help in the treatment plan to deal with the condition. Early diagnosis of the condition is very necessary to prevent problems of fertility, especially in young boys to avoid delayed puberty.
Types of Male Hypogonadism
There are two types of male hypogonadism according to their causes-
In Primary male hypogonadism condition, testicles cannot function well to produce enough testosterone. They do not respond to hormonal stimulation. The causes of primary hypogonadism are-
- Genetic disorders like Klinefelter syndrome and Turner syndrome
- Autoimmune diseases like hypoparathyroidism and Addison’s disease
- Infections like mumps
- Undescended Testes
- Liver or kidney diseases
- Exposure to radiation
- Surgery on sexual organs
- Too much absorption of iron in the body (hemochromatosis)
In secondary male hypogonadism condition, the hormones that stimulate the testes to secrete testosterone are interrupted or secreted less by hypothalamus or pituitary glands. This leads to hypo-secretion of testosterone. Secondary male hypogonadism causes are-
- Systemic illness
- Side effects of certain medicines
- Pituitary disorders
Symptoms of Male Hypogonadism
The Male hypogonadism symptoms appear within in few days of the deficiency of testosterone. It includes-
- Loss of muscle mass
- Lack of body hair (Axillary, facial and pubic hair)
- Development of abnormal breast
- Decreased growth of male gonads i.e. penis and testicles
- Erectile dysfunction
- Profuse sweating
- Lack of sexual desire or libido
- Hot flushes
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Depressed mood
- Disturbances in sleep
Male Hypogonadism Complications
Male hypogonadism may lead to the risk of certain diseases such as-
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Premature death in old aged men
Male hypogonadism is a male condition in which sufficient amount of testosterone is not produced in the body. Male hypogonadism is diagnosed by blood tests that determine the levels of testosterone in the blood. Low levels of testosterone are the indication of the male hypogonadism. Its causes are determined by other tests mentioned above.