Hypogonadism: Practice Essentials, Background, Pathophysiology

Posted: February 13, 2018 at 3:40 am

Morbidity for men and women with hypogonadism includes infertility and an increased risk of osteoporosis; there is no increase in mortality.

Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (see the image below) is one of several types of hypogonadism.

History

Considerations in the evaluation of males with hypogonadism include the following:

For postpubertal males, the rate of beard growth, libido and sexual function, muscle strength, and energy levels

Possible causes of acquired testicular failure (eg, mumps orchitis, trauma, radiation exposure of the head or testes, and chemotherapy)

Drugs that may interrupt testicular function -Including agents that interfere with testosterone synthesis, such as spironolactone andcyproterone.Agents such as cortisol,marijuana, heroin, and methadone may interfere with gonadotropin secretion.

Considerations in the evaluation of females with hypogonadism include the following:

Signs associated with Turner syndrome (eg, lymphedema, cardiac or renal congenital anomalies, and short growth pattern)

Age of menarche

Physical examination

Considerations in the physical examination of males with hypogonadism include the following:

Evaluation of the testes: This is the most important feature of the physical examination; determine whether both testes are palpable, their position in the scrotum, and their consistency; testes size can be quantitated by comparison with testicular models (orchidometer), or their length and width may be measured

Examination of the genitalia for hypospadias

Examination of the scrotum to see if it is completely fused

Evaluation of the extent of virilization

Staging of puberty: Use the Tanner criteria for genitalia, pubic hair, and axillary hair

Examination for signs of Klinefelter syndrome (eg, tall stature, especially if the legs are disproportionately long, gynecomastia, small or soft testes, and a eunuchoid body habitus)

Considerations in the physical examination of females with hypogonadism include the following:

Examination of the genitalia is important

Determination of the extent of androgenization: May be adrenal or ovarian in origin and is demonstrated in pubic and axillary hair

Determination of the extent of estrogenization: As evidenced by breast development and maturation of the vaginal mucosa

Examination for signs of Turner syndrome (eg, short stature, webbing of the neck [such as pterygium colli], a highly arched palate, short fourth metacarpals, widely spaced nipples, or multiple pigmented nevi)

See Clinical Presentation for more detail.

The following studies may be indicated in males with hypogonadism:

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels

Luteinizing hormone (LH) levels

Prolactin levels

Testosterone levels

Thyroid function

Seminal fluid examination

Karyotyping

Testicular biopsy

For males after puberty, the Guidelines of the Endocrine Society [2] require that the diagnosis of hypogonadism be based on symptoms and signs of hypogonadism plus the presence of a low testosterone level measured on at least 2 occasions.

The following studies may be indicated in females with hypogonadism:

Additional tests in the evaluation of patients with hypogonadism include the following:

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation testing: In patients in whom a form of congenital adrenal hyperplasia is suspected, adrenal steroid synthesis is best evaluated by performing a cosyntropin (ACTH 1-24) stimulation test

Luteinizing-hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) stimulation testing: To distinguish between true hypogonadotropic hypogonadism and constitutional delay in growth and maturation

Testicular tissue testing: If the testes are not palpable and if it is not certain whether any testicular tissue is present, administering human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and measuring testosterone response may be helpful

See Workup for more detail.

Hormonal replacement

The simplest and most successful treatment for males and females with either hypergonadotropic or hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is replacement of sex steroids, but the therapy does not confer fertility or, in men, stimulate testicular growth.

When fertility is desired, an alternative therapy for men with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is administration of pulsatile LHRH or injections of hCG and FSH. (In patients with hypergonadotropic hypogonadism, fertility is not possible.)

In a 6-year European study of men being treated for hypogonadism, long-term transdermal testosterone treatment did not increase prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels or influence prostate cancer risk. [3, 4]

Investigators used data from a 5-year, open-label extension of a 1-year trial of a transdermal testosterone patch (Testopatch) in men with hypogonadism. Study subjects wore two 60 cm2 patches, each of which delivered 2.4 mg of testosterone per day. More than 90% of patients had PSA concentrations below 2 ng/mL during the 6-year study, and no prostate cancer was found in patients over the course of the trial.

See Treatment and Medication for more detail.

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Hypogonadism: Practice Essentials, Background, Pathophysiology

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