What Is Hypogonadism?
For men and women alike, infertility is a cross too heavy to bear. The emotional trauma infertility brings to couple who are trying desperately to have a child is indescribable. Add to that the accompanying embarrassment and disappointment of accepting that you and your partner are barren can be a problem.
Many marriages have been destroyed by this one big factor of not being able to have a child. In any part of the world you may be, whether in China which holds the record for the most populated country in the world, or the Holy See which has zero population growth rate, the issue on infertility will always crop up.
There are many causes of infertility and one of them is a condition called Hypogonadism. But there is more to this condition than being just the cause of it.
Hypogonadism is a defect of the reproductive system wherein there is a lack of function of the sex glands of men (testes) and women (ovaries). In medical parlance, it is also known as Gonadal Deficiency.
Gonads play two major roles in the body. First, to produce normal hormonal levels important for body growth and second, to produce healthy sperms cells and egg cells vital for pregnancy to happen. Therefore, when there is a lack of function of the gonads, the result will be hormone deficiency and infertility.
Impotence and infertility for both men and women are usually caused by the decline in testosterone and estrogen levels. In some cases, hypogonadism affects only the hormone production and reproductive cells separately. But in general, hypogonadism involves both.
What Are The Causes Of Hypogonadism?
The causes of hypogonadism is classified into two types: Primary and Central.
In Primary Hypogonadism, the defect is in the sex glands itself. There is no external force that caused the defect. Genetics, infection, an autoimmune disorder or the effects of surgery may be the underlying cause of this malfunction. On the contrary, in Central Hypogonadism,
there is no defect on the sex glands but the malfunction is caused by brain tumors or infections on the part of the brain which controls the gonads. The problem lies in the irregularity in the central nervous system.
Some other factors which may cause this defect are genetic problems and some medical conditions. One of these conditions is brain tumor. Hypogonadism symptoms will appear when there is a tumor that affects the pituitary hormone that controls the sex glands. Other factors which could be a cause of this malfunction are the effects of radiation and other medical processes. Hypogonadism can also be caused by the used of steroids, liver and kidney conditions, nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune disorders and infections.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hypogonadism?
In hypogonadism that is caused by hormonal deficiency, the symptoms are common and not visible. Disturbances are caused in a person’s growth when certain hormonal levels are not met. In young boys for example, the absence of muscles and body hair are common symptoms. In young girls, menstruation is never happens. They do not achieve their maximum height and breast are less developed.
In adults, low energy, sexual dysfunction, stress and mood swings are the common symptoms of low testosterone levels. Although as men and women age, there is a marked decline in their testosterone and estrogen levels, it is not as obvious as that of the decline present in hypogonadism. The symptoms are seen as a far higher magnitude of low testosterone and menopause respectively.
In men, hypogonadism also causes muscle loss, impotence, enlargement of breasts and decrease in body hair while in women, hot flashes, amenorrhea ( loss of menstruation), and vaginal dryness are also present. There is a high risk of cardiovascular disease and bone density loss in women as well. If it is a case of Central Hypogonadism, more symptoms may be seen such as severe headaches, loss of vision and other conditions such as anorexia nervosa and hypothyroidism.
If a person feels that he is experiencing these effects early on in his life, he needs to consult a doctor as the problems may be more than one sees it. You have more reasons to have a check up as soon as you can when loss of vision and severe headaches happen.
How To Diagnose Hypogonadism
Possible candidates for hypogonadism are made to undergo tests to screen their testosterone and estrogen levels, including the the pituitary hormones that control the sex glands. Others tests includes a sperm count, blood tests, blood chemistry, tests on levels of milk hormone and a genetic analysis. A sonogram, MRI and a CT scan can also be helpful in diagnosing hypogonadism.
Treatment For Hypogonadism
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the most common treatment for Hypogonadism. These hormone infused medications are prescribed to lessen the burden or symptoms of the hormonal deficiency. Injections or pills are prescribed to stimulate the production of healthy and functioning sperm or egg cells in cases where infertility becomes a serious concern. In some cases, radiation or surgery may be required.
In women, the reduction in the production of hormones may bring serious problems in the form of endometriosis and even cancer and doctors are most concerned about these risks. If they suspect that you are at a high risk of developing both ailments, then they will have to prescribe a more treatment such as radiation therapy and surgical removal of the uterus.
It would be best to maintain a healthy lifestyle as most of the known causes of hypogonadism is not preventable. For your well being, maintaining a healthy eating habit and a normal body weight would be ideal. Being young in age is an additional factor which will help. In general, keep an active lifestyle and regular exercise with healthy eating will be advantageous.
How To Prevent Hypogonadism
When you suspect that something is not right, never waste your time and immediately consult your doctor. Early detection and correct diagnosis are the keys to alleviating the health problem. Hypogonadism is a treatable disease and a patient does need to suffer for a long period of time. With the right treatment under the supervision of a doctor, a patient with Hypogonadism can see the effects of the medications. It is also important to be in the right state of mind to accept that there is a problem, deal with it and have the coping mechanisms needed. There should be no apprehensions about sharing the details of the problems with a trusted physician as they are the ones who can eventually help you solve your health problems.