Hypogonadism

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Overview of Hypogonadism

Hypogonadism is characterized by inadequate production of sex hormones that impair the development of secondary sex characteristics. Hypogonadism can affect both sexes and is termed as male hypogonadism and female hypogonadism. Hypogonadism develops when gonads fail to produce adequate amount of sex hormone. Male gonads are known as testis and female gonads are termed as ovaries. Sex hormones have vital functions and lead to crucial changes in the male and female bodies. These hormones aid in the development of breasts in women and testis in men and growth of pubic hair in both. The production of sperm and egg and regulation of menstrual cycle in females is also carried out by sex hormones. Abnormal level of sex hormone in male is also known as andropause. There are two main types of hypogonadism, primary hypogonadism and secondary hypogonadism. Condition that may affect the functioning of gonads directly and lead to decrease in the production of sex hormones is known as primary hypogonadism. Whereas, hypogonadism that results due to defect in the system that control the gonads is known as secondary hypogonadism. Secondary hypogonadism occurs due to problem in pituitary gland or hypothalamus that control the function of gonads.

Causes and Risk Factors of Hypogonadism

There are different factors that may lead to hypogonadism. The most common causes of primary hypogonadism include autoimmune disorders and hypoparathyroidism. Severe infections of gonads, liver or kidney disorder, high level of iron in the body (hemochromatosis), exposure to radiation, sex organ surgery and underdeveloped testes may also lead to hypogonadism. Certain genetic disorders can lead to decreased production of sex hormones in the body, such as Klinefelter syndrome and Turner syndrome. Secondary hypogonadism can occur due to nutritional deficiencies, injury or infection of hypothalamus or pituitary gland, obesity and inflammatory disorders such as tuberculosis and sarcoidosis.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypogonadism

The signs and symptoms of hypogonadism in males and females are different. In males, deficiency of male sex hormone is manifested as fatigue, loss of body hair, reduced or abnormal growth of testicles and penis, loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and infertility, loss of muscles, osteoporosis and difficulty concentrating. In females, hypogonadism may lead to lack of menstruation, loss of body hair, milky discharge from breasts, underdeveloped breasts and lack of sex drive.