What is hypogonadism?


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Know the basics

What is hypogonadism?

Hypogonadism is a condition that affects the gonads in the body. These glands are responsible for producing sex hormones in the body. In men, these glands are the testes. In women, these glands are the ovaries.

In people with hypogonadism, their sex hormones are too low, thus affecting masculine and feminine growth, such as breast development, testicular development in men, and pubic hair growth. It might also affect the menstrual cycle and sperm production.

There are two types of hypogonadism: primary and central hypogonadism.

  • Primary: This type of hypogonadism originates from a problem in the gonads. Your gonads still can receive the signal from you brain but they are not able to produce hormones.
  • Secondary:This type of hypogonadism originates from indicates a problem in the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland – parts of the brain that control your gonads production – are not working properly.

How common is hypogonadism?

Hypogonadism can occur in men at any age, low testosterone levels are especially common in older males. More than 60% of men over age 65 have free testosterone levels below the normal values of men aged 30 to 35.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of hypogonadism?

Hypogonadism often begin at these three points in life: during fetal development, before puberty or during adulthood. Symptoms that may occur include:


  • Abnormal genitals: such as female genitals;
  • Underdeveloped male genital or ambiguous genitals;
  • Decreased in muscle mass;
  • Impaired growth of body hair;
  • Impaired growth of the penis and testicles;
  • Excessive growth of the arms and legs in relation to the trunk of the body;
  • Development of breast tissue (gynecomastia);
  • Erectile dysfunction;
  • Infertility;
  • Loss of bone mass (osteoporosis);
  • Fatigue;
  • Decreased sex drive;
  • Difficulty concentrating;
  • Hot flashes.


  • Menstruation stops;
  • Decreased sex drive;
  • Decreased in breast growth;
  • Milky breast discharge (from a prolactinoma);
  • Hot flashes;
  • Energy and mood changes.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

See a doctor if you have any symptoms of hypogonadism listed above or any questions. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your condition.

Know the causes

What causes hypogonadism?

Hypogonadism is an inherited condition, but in some cases, you might develop hypogonadism from an injury or an infection. You might have one type of hypogonadism or both together. Common causes of primary hypogonadism include:

  • Autoimmune disorders such as Addison’s disease and hypoparathyroidism;
  • Genetic and developmental disorders include Turner syndrome(in women) and Klinefelter syndrome (in men);
  • Infection;
  • Liver and kidney disease;
  • Radiation;
  • Surgery;
  • Iron excess (hemochromatosis);

Common causes of secondary hypogonadism include:

  • Anorexia nervosa;
  • Bleeding in the area of the pituitary;
  • Taking medicines, such as glucocorticoids and opiates;
  • Stopping anabolic steroids;
  • Genetic problems include Kallmann syndrome;
  • Infections;
  • Nutritional deficiencies;
  • Radiation;
  • Rapid, significant weight loss (including weight loss after bariatric surgery);
  • Surgery;
  • Trauma;
  • Tumors;

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for hypogonadism?

You may be at higher risk of hypogonadism if you have:

  • family history of hypogonadism;
  • Kallmann syndrome;
  • Klinefelter syndrome;
  • hemochromatosis;
  • testicular or pituitary tumors;
  • mumps infection affecting your testicles.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is hypogonadism diagnosed?

Your doctor will check for physical signs of hypogonadism, but the best way to diagnose hypogonadism is by taking lab tests. Some common tests for this conditions include testing:

  • Estrogen level (women);
  • FSH leveland LH level;
  • Testosterone level(men);
  • Blood tests for anemiaand iron;
  • Genetic tests;
  • Prolactin level(milk hormone);
  • Sperm count;
  • Thyroid tests.

Sometimes imaging tests are needed, such as a sonogram of the ovaries. If pituitary disease is suspected, an MRI or CT scan of the brain may be done.

How is hypogonadism treated?

To balance the hormone levels in your body, you may need to take hormone-based medicines. For girls and women, this means taking estrogen and progesterone. For boys and men, testosterone is used. The medicines can come in the form of a pill, skin patch, skin gel, or by injection. Other people may need surgery and radiation therapy.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hypogonadism?

Hypogonadism is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment as your sex hormone level will probably decrease if you stop your medication. Follow these lifestyle tips to stay healthy with hypogonadism:

  • Hypogonadism can increase your chance of getting osteoporosis. Make sure to have a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and getting enough amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Talk to your doctor about dietary guidelines that are appropriate for you.
  • Learn about erectile dysfunction or infertility.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Allow time to adjust with hormone changes from treatment.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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