Hypogonadism Causes & Information | Cleveland Clinic

Posted: December 12, 2017 at 8:42 am

What is hypogonadism?

Hypogonadism is a condition in which the testicles are not working the way they should.

In an adult, the testicles have two main functions: to make testosterone (the male hormone) and sperm. These activities are controlled by a part of the brain called the pituitary. The pituitary sends signals (called gonadotropins) to the testicles that, under normal conditions, cause the testicles to produce sperm and testosterone.

The pituitary signals can change based on the feedback signals that the brain receives from the testicle. Hypogonadism can therefore be divided into two main categories:

These categories are important because they may influence the way that hypogonadism is treated, and play a role in the results.

Testicular failure occurs when the brain is signaling the testicle to make testosterone and sperm, but the testicles are not responding correctly. As a result, the brain increases the amount of the gonadotropins signals, which causes a higher-than-normal level of these signals in the blood. For this reason, this condition is also referred to as hypergonadotropic hypogonadism. This is the most common category of hypogonadism.

Secondary hypogonadism (also called hypogonadotropic hypogonadism) occurs when the brain fails to signal the testicles properly. In men who have secondary hypogonadism, the testosterone levels may be very low, and sperm are usually missing from the semen. Some boys are born with this condition. In most cases, it is discovered when a boy fails to go through puberty.

Causes of primary hypogonadism include:

Causes of secondary hypogonadism include:

Low testosterone: Hypogonadism may be diagnosed when a man has symptoms of low testosterone, including low energy, fatigue, and a lower sexual drive.

Patients with secondary hypogonadism are usually diagnosed during their teen years because they have not started puberty. These patients may not develop the body type, muscle build, or hair pattern seen in adult males. Some men will also have a poor sense of smell.

Infertility: Hypogonadism may be diagnosed when a man has a problem with fertility (cannot father a child) and is found to have no sperm or only a very low number of sperm in the semen.

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Hypogonadism Causes & Information | Cleveland Clinic

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