etting Pregnant and Sperm Health: Hypogonadism
Hypogonadism is a form of male infertility that affects a man’s sperm health and as such affects a couple’s chances of getting pregnant. But while hypogonadism can have a negative effect on male fertility, a variety of infertility treatment options exist that can help to alleviate the symptoms of hypogonadism as well as to improve male fertility. But what exactly is hypogonadism and what treatment options are available?
What is Hypogonadism?
Hypogonadism is a male infertility condition in which levels of testosterone are low. This condition affects some 13 million men in the United States, however less than 10% of these men seek medical treatment.
Testosterone is the male hormone that is necessary for proper sexual functioning and is also responsible for the development of the reproductive and sex organs in men.
Low levels of testosterone occur when there is an insufficient level of gonadotropin hormone produced, an abnormality that can occur either in the pituitary gland, the testicles or the hypothalamus due to disease or injury. In turn, low testosterone results in irregular sperm production.
What Causes Hypogonadism?
There are a variety of causes that have been linked to hypogonadism:
- congenital irregularities
- hemochromatosis (high iron levels)
- injury to the testicles
- undescended testicles
- radiation therapy
- Klinefelter’s syndrome
- Kallman’s syndrome
There are two types of hyopogonadism: primary and secondary. Primary hypogonadism occurs when there is a problem with the testicles, while an irregularity with the hypothalamus or pituitary gland is the cause of secondary hypogonadism; abnormal testicular function can also contribute to the development of this condition. Both of these forms of hypogonadism can be a result of congenital abnormalities or due to an acquired condition.
The following are symptoms of hypogonadism:
- lack of facial or body hair
- decreased energy and sex drive
- erectile dysfunction
- low muscle mass
- high body fat
- development of enlarged breasts
- shrinking or softening of the testicles
- menopausal symptoms, including mood swings and irritability
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is the main form of therapy used to treat hypogonadism; it involves the administration of synthetic testosterone supplements. TRT is available in gel, patch and injectable form.
In addition to helping to restore normal sexual functioning, testosterone replacement therapy can help to increase sex drive, energy levels as well as overall wellbeing. It is effective for hypogonadism that is a result of hypothalamus or pituitary abnormalities.
However, there is no treatment currently available that can restore fertility in men with primary hypogonadism. However, assisted reproductive methods are a viable option for helping couples to conceive.