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Male Hypogonadism


Male Hypogonadism

Male hypogonadism is a condition that links to a lack of testosterone production. Testosterone is a hormone which is key to masculine growth and development during puberty and the condition can then lead to an impaired ability to produce sperm.

Some men with hypogonadism are born with the condition, while others find that it develops in later life as a result of injury or infection. The effects of the condition and how it can be treated will often vary depending on when you developed the condition. In many cases, it can be treated with hormone replacement therapies where you will be given replacement testosterone to make up the amount that your body is unable to produce naturally.

What causes hypogonadism?

The most common causes of primary hypogonadism include:
- Addison's disease or other autoimmune disorders
- Turner syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome and other genetic-based disorders
- Liver and kidney diseases
- Severe infections
- Undescended testes
- Exposure to radiation
- Hemochromatosis - a condition caused by your body absorbing too much iron

If you develop central or secondary hypogonadism this may be due to:
- Genetic disorders (including Kallmann syndrome)
- Severe infections
- Pituitary disorders
- Diseases which cause inflammation, such as tuberculosis
- Obesity
- Rapid and severe weight loss
- Over-use of steroids and opiates
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Exposure to radiation
- Injury to the hypothalamus or pituitary gland
- A tumour near or in your pituitary gland.

Common symptoms

Hypogonadism can begin at various stages of development - during fetal development, before puberty or during adulthood. The signs and symptoms of the condition will often depend on when it develops.

1. Fetal development

If your body doesn't produce enough testosterone during fetal development, it may result in the impaired growth of external sex organs. Depending on how early in fetal development the condition develops, it can result in the birth of a genetically male child who is born with:
-Female genitalia
- Ambiguous genitalia - for example, genitals that are neither obviously male of obviously female.
- Underdeveloped male genitalia

2. Development of the condition during puberty

In some cases, hypogonadism can delay puberty or cause an incomplete or total lack of normal development. This may result in:
- Decreased development of muscle mass
- A voice which does not deepen
- Impaired growth of body hair and genitalia
- Excessive growth of the arms and legs in relation to the abdominal area
- The development of breast tissue (gynecomastia)

3. Adulthood

If hypogonadism develops during adulthood, you may experience some changes in certain traditionally male physical characteristics. It may also results in the impairment of normal reproductive functions. Signs and symptoms in these cases may include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fertility issues
- Lack of growth of facial and body hair
- Decreased muscle mass
- The development of breast tissue
- Osteoporosis (the loss of bone mass)

Because hypogonadism is linked to a hormonal imbalance, it can also result in mental and emotional changes similar to those of the menopause in women. These could include:
- Decreased sex drive
- Fatigue
- Hot flushes
- Difficulty concentrating

If you would like more information on hypogonadism and other hormonal conditions, talk to our endocrinology department. They will be able to give you the help and advice you need to manage and treat your condition.