Gonads are the sex glands responsible for the production of sex hormones and gametes. In men the gonads are the male testicles; its main function is the production of sperms and the androgen hormone testosterone. In women, gonads are the female ovaries responsible for the release of ova cells and the hormone estrogen and progesterone. When hypogonadism strikes an individual, the normal functions of the gonads are hindered. As a result, they cannot produce sex hormones. In the absence of these hormones, sexual capabilities become challenged compromising sexual performance and secondary sexual characteristics.
Types of Hypogonadism
- The gonads themselves malfunction.
- The messages as received from the pituitary gland are received without any issues.
- The production of sex hormones inside testes and ovaries falter.
- The problem is not in the gonads but the pituitary gland which does not send the message to the gonads properly.
- The pituitary gland which is the one that controls all the other endocrine glands may not be able to function correctly due to a tumor or some genetic disorder.
Causes of Hypogonadism
- Autoimmune Disorders – Autoimmune Disorders are those in which the immune system goes haywire. It faultily starts attacking good cells of the body instead of the bad ones. Certain autoimmune diseases such as Addison’s disease or hypoparathyroidism can trigger hypogonadism.
- Mumps – Infection such as mumps swells up the salivary glands. It is caused by a virus and can cause the failure of the testes leading to hypogonadism.
- Liver and kidney diseases – In the case of liver and kidney disease caused by alcohol use, the testicle fails to cause hypoandrogenism. In other kinds of liver diseases, the hypogonadism is brought on centrally.
- Turner Syndrome – Genetic disorders such as Turner Syndrome can lead to failure of gonads in females, as this syndrome only develops in females. The dysfunction of ovaries is common in this syndrome. This triggers hypogonadism.
- Hemochromatosis – In this disorder, the body starts absorbing the excess of iron causing an overabundance of the same. This can activate hypogonadism.
Symptoms of Hypogonadism
In men and women, the symptoms vary and can be majorly traced to the loss of sexual functions of the body. A brief listing of the symptoms is as follows:
- Low libido
- Less sperm production
- A sudden dip in the energy levels
- Little to no production of testosterone
- The onset of erectile dysfunction
- Sudden mood changes
- Problems remaining aroused after arousal
- Poor sleeping pattern
- Uneven fat distribution of the body
- Loss of body and facial hair
- Little to no menstrual flow
- Very less growth in the breasts
- Discharge from breasts
- Lowering of libido levels
Tests for Diagnosis
The diagnosis for hypogonadism could be done it two ways, namely, imaging tests such as MRI and CT scans. This can only detect the defect in the pituitary gland therefore an alternative method hormone testing is opted for in the case of primary hypogonadism.
The treatment for women and men is different and follows a separate course of action. The favorable treatments are listed below:
- For Men
Since the problem involves the inability of the gonads to produce sex hormones, hormone replacement therapy can be opted for. The replacement of testosterone can be done with the aid of injection of the hormone, testosterone patches, and gels. In case hypogonadism is a result of the malfunction of the pituitary gland, possibly due to the development of a tumor, the surgical method has to be employed. Radiation therapy and medication are the other two treatments that may be opted for depending upon the nature of hypogonadism.
- For Women
The treatment for women who have had their uterus removed could be through estrogen therapy. A woman can take pills for the same in the form of a dietary supplement. Estrogen patch can also be applied. In the case the woman still has an intact uterus then progesterone along with estrogen must be administered.
- Body Adjustment to the Treatment
Once the body undergoes proper treatment for this condition the results start becoming visible within a brief time. The level of effectiveness of the treatment and subsequent adjustment to it may vary from one treatment to the other, the variation also occurs in men and women. The individual adjustment can be traced to the cause of the disorder, depending upon whether it is secondary or primary, a different course of action is warranted. In the case of surgical treatment, the period of recovery is much longer than in the case of hormone replacement therapy. If an individual uses dietary supplements then the body adaptation to the same could be as soon as a week within which positive results become apparent.
Benefits of the Treatment
Numerous benefits follow an effective treatment, these are:
- Better sex drive
- Better functioning of the reproductive system
- Good chances of conception and pregnancy
- Enhanced fertility
- Better functioning of the endocrine system
- Higher energy and improved metabolism