Testosterone is a very important steroid hormone for both – males and females. It is made in testes in males and ovaries in females. It is responsible for development of sexual organs and secondary sexual characteristics in a human body. It also plays an important role in muscle growth and bone development due to its anabolic characteristic.
Low testosterone levels in males can affect their development and well being adversely. When the male body produces less than required amounts of testosterone it is called male hypogonadism. There are two types of hypogonadism.
Types of Hypogonadism
When hypogonadism occurs due to some kind of problem in testicles than it is known as primary hypogonadism.
When there is some problem in hypothalamus or pituitary gland which signals production of testosterone to brain, then it is known as secondary hypogonadism. Here we will discuss the reasons behind primary and second hypogonadism.
Causes of Primary Hypogonadism
Normally, testicles of a male fetus develop in the abdomen and move down to scrotum before birth but sometimes this does not happen before birth. In some males either one or both testicles descend to the scrotum after one or two years of birth. Sometimes this does not happen and the testicles do not develop normally, leading to less or no production of testosterone.
Mumps can cause inflammation of testes in males. If this happens during the puberty or reproductive age then it can cause damage to the testicles leading to less production of testosterone in males.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can damage the interstitial cells of the testicles and can also lead to lesser production of testosterone in males. Over a period of time, the testis can recover also and the testosterone levels can go back to normal as well.
If the testes get injured then it may lead to low production of testosterone. However, even if one testis functions normally then it does not adversely affect testosterone production.
Normally, a boy has X and Y chromosome but sometimes some boys are born with one extra X chromosome. This congenital defect is known as Klinefelter’s Syndrome. People who suffer from this defect have low testosterone levels along with other health problems.
As the age increases, testosterone production in males decreases but generally the production is good enough to sustain the bodily functions.
Causes of Secondary Hypogonadism
In this disease, there is abnormal development of Hypothalamus. Since hypothalamus signals testosterone production through pituitary gland, any problems in hypothalamus can lead to low levels of testosterone.
Tumor in pituitary or tumor in the brain near pituitary can adversely affect the production of testosterone levels in a male. Besides, treatment of pituitary through radiation therapy can also cause low levels of testosterone production.
HIV/AIDS can affect the hypothalamus and pituitary gland and hence can lead to low levels of testosterone in a human body.
Obesity is also linked with low level of testosterone production in a male body.
Certain inflammatory diseases like TB, sarcoidosis, etc can adversely affect hypothalamus and can cause low level of testosterone production.
Certain drugs like anabolic steroids and some hormones can also lead to low levels of testosterone production in a human body.
Testosterone is a vital hormone for a male’s growth, development and well being. In most cases hypogonadism can be treated. A right attitude and right medical treatment can go a long way in treating male hypogonadism.
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