Male hypogonadism is a condition in which the body doesn't produce enough testosterone, the hormone that plays a key role in masculine growth and development during puberty.
You may be born with male hypogonadism, or it can develop later in life from injury or infection. The effects — and what you can do about them — depend on the cause and at what point in your life male hypogonadism occurs. Some types of male hypogonadism can be treated with testosterone replacement therapy.
Hypogonadism can begin during fetal development, before puberty or during adulthood. Signs and symptoms depend on when the condition develops.
Hypogonadism can also cause mental and emotional changes. As testosterone decreases, some men may experience symptoms similar to those of menopause in women. These may include:
When to see a doctor
Male reproductive system
The male reproductive system makes, stores and moves sperm. Testicles produce sperm. Fluid from the seminal vesicles and prostate gland combine with sperm to make semen. The penis ejaculates semen ...
Male hypogonadism means the testicles don't produce enough of the male sex hormone testosterone. There are two basic types of hypogonadism:
Either type of hypogonadism may be caused by an inherited (congenital) trait or something that happens later in life (acquired), such as an injury or an infection.
Pituitary gland and hypothalamus
The pituitary gland and the hypothalamus are situated within the brain and control hormone production. ...
Risk factors for hypogonadism include:
Hypogonadism can be inherited. If any of these risk factors are in your family health history, tell your doctor.
The complications of untreated hypogonadism differ depending on what age it first develops — during fetal development, puberty or adulthood.
Preparing for your appointment
Although you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or general practitioner, you may need to consult an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the hormone-producing (endocrine) glands. If your primary care doctor suspects you have male hypogondism, he or she may refer you to an endocrinologist. Or, you may ask for a referral.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and to know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Preparing a list of questions for your doctor will help you make the most of your time together. For male hypogonadism, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you have.
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
Your doctor will conduct a physical exam during which he or she will note whether your sexual development, such as your pubic hair, muscle mass and size of your testes, is consistent with your age. Your doctor may test your blood level of testosterone if you have any of the signs or symptoms of hypogonadism. Early detection in boys can help prevent problems from delayed puberty. Early diagnosis and treatment in men offer better protection against osteoporosis and other related conditions.
Doctors base a diagnosis of hypogonadism on symptoms and results of blood tests that measure testosterone levels. Because testosterone levels vary and are generally highest in the morning, blood testing is usually done early in the day.
If tests confirm you have low testosterone, further testing can determine if a testicular disorder or a pituitary abnormality is the cause. Based on specific signs and symptoms, additional studies can pinpoint the cause. These studies may include:
Testosterone testing also plays an important role in managing hypogonadism. This helps your doctor determine the right dosage of medication, both initially and over time.
Treatments and drugs
Treatment for adults
Treatment for boys
Types of testosterone replacement therapy
Coping and support
Last Updated: 2010-12-09
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