What is hypogonadism?

Hypogonadism refers to a condition in which the body does not produce enough of the hormone testosterone. This occurs when there is an issue with the testes or with the pituitary gland, which signals the testes to produce testosterone.

There are two main types of hypogonadism:

  • Primary hypogonadism occurs when there is a problem with the testes and they do not function properly. This means they do not produce adequate levels of testosterone. Some causes include:

    • Klinefelter syndrome
    • Undescended testes
    • Infection
    • Injury
    • Cancer treatment
  • Secondary hypogonadism happens when there is an issue with the pituitary gland not signaling the testes effectively. The testes may be healthy, but they do not get stimulated to generate testosterone properly. Some reasons this could happen include:

    • Pituitary tumors
    • Inflammatory diseases
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Medications

Symptoms can vary depending on the age when hypogonadism develops, but often include:

  • Decreased energy and fatigue
  • Mood changes like depression or irritability
  • Muscle loss and weakness
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Loss of body and facial hair
  • Reduced bone density leading to osteoporosis

Diagnosis typically involves blood tests to measure hormone levels like testosterone, FSH, and LH. This can determine whether it is a testicular or pituitary issue. Sometimes further testing like an MRI or genetics tests are done to pinpoint the cause.

Treatment options depend on the underlying reason for the low testosterone, but commonly include:

  • Testosterone replacement therapy

    • Testosterone injections, gels, patches
    • Helps alleviate symptoms
  • Targeted treatment of pituitary or testes conditions

    • Removal of tumors
    • Treatment of infections
    • Surgery for undescended testes

The prognosis and outlook for hypogonadism vary greatly. With proper diagnosis and management, many effects can be reduced or reversed. But lifelong treatment may be necessary in some cases. Catching it early leads to better outcomes long-term.

I hope this gives you a helpful overview of hypogonadism - let me know if you have any other questions!

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