Hypogonadism is a condition characterized by low levels of testosterone, the hormone in boys and men that helps males to develop secondary sex characteristics, such as larger penises, pubic hair in their genital regions, larger muscles, facial hair and deeper voices. Klinefelter syndrome, a congenital condition caused by an extra X chromosome, is one of the most common causes of hypogonadism in boys. Male children or adults can develop a testosterone deficiency as a result of cancer, AIDS, a decrease in testosterone due to aging, irregularities in the pituitary glands, trauma to the testicles, liver or kidney disease, undescended testicles, infections or a condition known as Kallmann syndrome that affects the part of the brain that regulates pituitary hormones. Along with low levels of testosterone, men often have to deal with a range of symptoms which affect different portions of their bodies as a result of hypogonadism. The symptoms of hypogonadism are sometimes treatable.
Symptoms in Boys
A lack of testosterone in boys often results in a lack of development within the sex organs. Young men suffering from hypogonadism often have smaller penises or testicles than other males because their sex organs do not develop regularly during puberty. If male adolescents lack an adequate amount of testosterone during puberty, they may grow little or no hair on their underarms, chests, faces or pubic regions. Certain young men develop enlarged tissues on their chests that look similar to female breasts. A testosterone deficiency during puberty can also cause boys to have little or no muscle or voice development. Males with hypogonadism and brain tumors can develop more serious symptoms, such as vision problems or milk-like emissions from their nipples.
Symptoms in Men
Low testosterone levels can sometimes cause men to have problems conceiving children as they may not be able to get or sustain an erection, have a decreased libido or be unable to produce enough sperm. Some males start to lose muscle mass or can no longer grow or keep body hair as a result of decreased levels of testosterone. Testosterone helps men to maintain strong bones. Sometimes low levels of testosterone can affect men’s bone strength, which could result in osteoporosis.
Doctors can usually help to reduce symptoms of hypogonadism by working to increase testosterone levels in males with low testosterone levels. Patients can undergo testosterone therapy, which can help to reduce the amount of bone and muscle loss that men experience as a result of hypogonadism. Testosterone therapy can also increase men’s sex drives, which may increase their chances of conceiving a child unless they suffer from infertility. Doctors give patients testosterone injections, patches or gels. Men need to get the shots about once every two weeks or use the patches or gels every day. Testosterone therapy can help boys to develop more body hair, larger muscles or larger testicles or penises.
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