What Is Primary Testicular Failure?
Primary testicular failure is a condition whereby the testes are unable to produce testosterone and sperms. The deficiency of testosterone (the sex hormone), leads to a number of complications including decreased sex drive and poor development of male sex characteristics such as deep voice and facial hair. It also interferes with the testicles in that, they are unable to produce and nourish sperms. Primary testicular failure can be caused by various factors which interfere with spermatogenesis in different ways. The condition can be managed in several ways and its prognosis depends on the patient in question. Mainly, the age of the patient and extent of the condition determine how well one will respond to the treatment given. However, as much as primary testicular failure can be controlled, most forms of testicular failure are irreversible. Primary testicular failure is also known as hypergonadotropic hypogonadism.
What Causes Primary Testicular Failure?
The possible causes of primary testicular failure can be attributed to genetic abnormalities, trauma to the testes, medication, infections and even lifestyle choices. The common causes of this disorder include;
Klinefelter Syndrome – this is a situation whereby the male gender has a chromosomal composition of “XXY” instead of the normal “XY” chromosomal buildup. It is the most common cause of primary testicular failure, affecting 0.1% of the male population.
Cryptorchidism – this is a condition characterized by missing ball(s). It is a congenital disorder that one is born with that arises when the testicles do not descend into their rightful position in the scrotum.
Cancer And Cancer Treatment – this two factors greatly affect the human body, and one of the common complications of cancer and treatment procedures (chemotherapy and radiation) is infertility, especially in patients with testicular cancer.
Trauma To The Testicles – this is when one experiences an injury to the testicles which causes irreversible damage.
Signs And Symptoms Of Primary Testicular Failure
Due to the inability of the testicles to produce sperms and testosterone, one may develop certain characteristic symptoms. These primary testicular failure symptoms include;
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
- Reduced sexual drive (libido)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Slow growth or loss of facial and body hair.
- Breast growth (gynecomastia)
In children and developing teens, they may experience delayed puberty development, abnormal genitalia, impaired penis, and testicles growth as well as unproportioned body development of arms and legs compared to the trunk.
Diagnosis For Primary Testicular Failure
A patient with primary testicular failure can be diagnosed through assessment of blood testosterone levels, luteinizing hormone levels, physical examination and blood levels of prostate specific antigen for men above 50years old. The total blood testosterone levels are measured, and if the results indicate low levels, then the patient probably has the disorder. As for luteinizing hormone levels, it helps with determining whether the testicular failure is primary or secondary. Secondary testicular failure is associated with failure of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. The physical examination testing involves observing any physical defects the patient is exhibiting such as absence of pubic hair, small-size penis, and breast growth. In older males (50 years and above) are checked for prostate cancer which can affect the functionality of testicles.
Depending on the aim of treatment, a primary testicular failure patient can be treated through testosterone replacement therapy. It involves using hormone to stimulate the reproductive organs and improve their functionality in patients with this disorder. Testosterone therapy can help the patient achieve improved fertility and sexual functionality. If the damage caused is irreversible, the doctor may suggest assisted reproduction, using techniques such as in vitro fertilization, to help the couples conceive.
Primary testicular failure or hypergonadotropic hypogonadism is a condition which interferes with the normal functionality of the testicles. As a result, a male is unable to produce sperms and testosterone levels are low due to impaired production of the sex hormone testosterone. As a patient of primary testicular failure, it is important that you are aware of what to expect from this ailment. You can cope by making necessary lifestyle and dietary changes and educating yourself on possible future complications. Most importantly, ensure you go for treatment for the diagnosis of the underlying cause and treatment, which will alleviate symptoms and improve the condition.