Hypogonadism is a condition in which body is unable to produce sex hormones in sufficient amount. In this condition, the body cannot produce sperm or ovum due to hormonal deficiency. It can develop at any age due to a variety of reasons. It can also begin in the fetal age inside the mother’s womb. It represents symptoms according to age such as during pubertal age, it delays puberty and in adult age, it can cause infertility and sexual dysfunction. The condition is diagnosed by physical examination and blood tests (detects the level of sex hormones in the blood). It can be treated with hormone replacement therapy in both the sexes.
Is Hypogonadism Genetic?
Hypogonadism is marked by impaired levels of sex hormones in the blood. It affects sexual growth and sexual function of an individual. It disturbs the changes occurring in the body during puberty or adulthood. If it is of genetic origin, it starts during fetal development and represents its symptoms during puberty. If it causes are other than genetics, then it can develop at any age.
Hypogonadism can be of genetic origin. It is caused by the mutations in the genes during fetal development in the mother’s womb. Genetic mutations are the primary causes of hypogonadism. Mutations occurring in genes GNRH1, KISS1R, and GNRHR and genes TAC3 and TACR3 are also associated with hypogonadism. Mutations in KAL1, FGFR1, FGF8, PROK2, and PROKR2 are found in Kallmann syndrome that may also cause hypogonadism. Kallmann syndrome is marked by the impaired secretion of hormones from the pituitary gland that stimulate the secretion of the sex hormones due to a mutation in these genes. Turner syndrome and Klinefelter syndrome also lead to hypogonadism in females and males respectively. It can cause a pubertal delay.
Primary Hypogonadism- In this condition, testicles cannot function well to produce enough testosterone. They do not respond to hormonal stimulation. The causes of primary hypogonadism are autoimmune diseases like hypoparathyroidism and Addison’s disease, infections like mumps, undescended testes, liver or kidney diseases, exposure to radiation, surgery on sexual organs and too much absorption of iron in the body (hemochromatosis)
Secondary Hypogonadism- In this condition, the hormones that stimulate the testes to secrete testosterone are interrupted or secreted less by hypothalamus or pituitary glands. This leads to hyposecretion of testosterone. Its causes are systemic illness, malnutrition, stress, side effects of certain medicines, pituitary disorders, toxins, obesity, HIV or AIDS infection and aging.
The symptoms of hypogonadism appear according to its cause and it varies from age to age.
Symptoms During Fetal Development: If enough sex hormones are not released during fetal development due to genetic causes. It results in the improper growth of the external sex organs. If a male hypogonadism develops in this age, the male child may be genetically born with female genitals, ambiguous genitals (neither male nor female) or underdeveloped male genitals.
Symptoms During Puberty: During pubertal age, hypogonadism delays puberty and impairs the normal development, for example, decreased muscular mass, impaired growth of body hair, sexual organs, feminine features like the development of breast in males, excessive growth of arms or legs and lack of deep voice.
Symptoms During Adulthood: In adult males, it disturbs the normal masculine growth of the body and influences reproductive function. The symptoms include erectile dysfunction, infertility, reduced beard, muscle mass or bone mass and development of breast tissue. It may also cause fatigue, less sexual drive, hot flushes, and difficult concentration.
Hypogonadism is of genetic origin in some of the cases where it begins during fetal growth and marks its presence during the pubertal age. It is caused in the fetal age due to a mutation in the genes and genetic diseases like Turner’s syndrome or Klinefelter syndrome. Mutations in genes in Kallmann syndrome can also trigger hypogonadism due to defective secretion of hormones by the pituitary gland that stimulate sex hormones.