Hypogonadism occurs when sex glands called gonads produce little, if any, sex hormones. It affects teenagers and adults of all genders. The condition causes a low sex drive or libido. Hypogonadism is sometimes called gonad deficiency.
Causes of Hypogonadism
It isn’t clear why some people develop hypogonadism. For unknown reasons, a problem with the sex glands or brain affects the body’s production of sex hormones.
Symptoms of Hypogonadism
Signs of hypogonadism in females include:
Milky nipple discharge.
Signs of hypogonadism in males include:
Enlarged breasts (gynecomastia).
Infertility due to low sperm count.
Diagnosis of Hypogonadism
A blood test can check levels of sex hormones, thyroid hormones, prolactin (pituitary gland hormone) and iron. You’ll get this test in the morning, when hormone levels are at their highest.
An MRI or CT scan can identify tumors in the pituitary gland or brain. An ultrasound can check for problems like ovarian cysts or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
This test measures sperm count.
Complications of Hypogonadism
Anxiety or depression.
Treatment of Hypogonadism
Hypogonadism treatments vary depending on the cause.
For primary hypogonadism, hormone replacement therapy can raise hormone levels.
Men may have testosterone therapy, while women may have estrogen and progesterone hormone therapy.
These treatments come in gels, implants, pills, shots and skin patches.
Female hormone therapy may slightly increase a woman’s risk of uterine (endometrial) cancer, blood clots and strokes.
If a pituitary gland problem like a tumor causes secondary hypogonadism, you may need medication, radiation therapy or surgery.
Primary hypogonadism can be a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment.
If you stop hormone replacement therapy, hormone levels can plummet, causing symptoms to return.
If a treatable condition like a pituitary gland tumor causes hypogonadism, hormone levels should return to normal after your healthcare provider treats the tumor.