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Hypogonadism – a medical term that defines the underproduction of the male sex hormone – testosterone- by the testicles. Either inherited or acquired, the condition can hinder males’ natural sexual instincts.
Testosterone - the hormone that plays an important role in masculine growth and development during puberty, triggers male characteristics and maintains sex drive in adulthood.
Based on the phase of life at which hypogonadism occurs - fetal development, puberty or adulthood – the symptoms of the condition vary.
Low Testosterone levels during fetal development can lead to impaired growth of external sex organs. Depending on the levels a male child may be born with:
• Development of female genitals
• Ambiguous genitals (genitals that are neither clearly male or female)
• Underdeveloped male genitals
If levels of testosterone fall as the male child reaches puberty, the condition leads to delayed or impaired puberty. Common symptoms are:
• Lack of muscle mass
• Lack of deepening of the voice
• Decreased growth of body hair
• Impaired penis and testicles growth
Altering masculine physical characteristics and impairing normal reproductive function, in adults, hypogonadism is characterized by:
• Loss of libido
• Erectile dysfunction
• Infertility issues
• Decrease in muscle mass
• Gynecomastia (breast enlargement)
Surgery, radiationdefine therapies to treat tumors, liver and kidney disease, certain infections, nutritional deficiency or autoimmune disorders are some of the causes behind acquiring the disorder.
A simple blood examination measuring the testosterone level along with FSH level and LH level is enough to track the presence of hypogonadism.
Following the basic test, further tests may be required to determine the underlying cause of the condition.
Testosterone replacement therapy: The key to treating hypogonadism is to elevate the declined testosterone levels to normal. Physicians may prescribe hormone-based medicines available in oral, injectable, gum, gel or patch forms to treat the deficiency of the hormone.