As we men get older, there is a natural progression into less energy, less sex drive, less initiative, less motivation, and lots of other things that we are interested in much less. This could just be normal aging, or it could be symptoms of something called Hypogonadism. I had no idea at the time what the causes of Hypogonadism in Males were. Now, I know.
Several years ago, when I was first diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I was also tested for low testosterone levels. To my surprise, I not only was diabetic, but I also had developed Hypogonadism, which it turned out explained a lot of my symptoms.
But, what is this thing called Hypogonadism, and does that mean I will always have low testosterone and no sex drive? That just can’t be:(
What is Hypogonadism?
To put it as simple as I can, male hypogonadism is basically a failure of your testes to produce what we call, the male sex hormone testosterone. This testosterone deficiency can also be the reason you can’t produce those little swimmers (sperm) and more.
It turns out that the activities of your testes are actually controlled by a part of the brain called the Pituitary. This pituitary gland is responsible for sending signals (called gonadotropins) to the testicles that are supposed to tell the testicles to produce sperm and testosterone.
Now if these signals aren’t getting the right information and feedback in the brain, from your testicles, that can change what gets back to your testes. These mixed signals are part of Hypogonadism and indicate there is either a problem with the signals from the brain to the lower nether region, or there is a problem inside the testicles themselves. These two categories of problems are called Primary Hypogonadism and Secondary Hypogonadism
These categories are very important, because they will help determine how your particular hypogonadism is treated, so you can get the results you are looking for in the end.
What is Primary Hypogonadism?
Primary Hypogonadism is diagnosed when your testicles are not responding to the hormone stimulation via the signals from your pituitary. This can happen for several reasons, including the fact that it may be a congenital disorder, meaning you were born with it. This is usually called Klinefelter’s syndrome.
Other ways you testes or testicles could be damaged and not working correctly is as a result of chemotherapy, tumors or physical damage, radiation treatment, or even if you had the mumps at some point.
What is Secondary Hypogonadism?
Secondary Hypogonadism occurs at the other end of the chain, in the pituitary or hypothalamus glands. This can happen for multiple reasons, just like primary does. Usually, this happens due to a disease of one or both of those glands or other areas of your body. If your pituitary gland is diseased and can’t send the signal to the testes to do their thing, you have secondary hypogonadism.
There are several situations that your glands can become diseased and stop sending the right signals to your boys.
Here are some of those situations:
⇒ You are Malnourished.
⇒ You have too much stress in your life.
⇒ Side effects of prescription drugs. Some of my diabetic drugs caused me issues with low T.
⇒ You have Cirrhosis of the Liver.
⇒ You drink too much alcohol.
⇒ You are morbidly obese.
Normal aging can also cause Low Testosterone, which is called Andropause. We know this happens to us guys after about the age of around 40 and we will lose 1 – 2 % of our testosterone levels per year.
Other high-risk factors of Hypogonadism are type 2 diabetes, Having HIV, COPD, hypertension, opioids, and listen up bodybuilders, taking steroids is a very high-risk factor.
What Problems are Linked With Hypogonadism?
When hypogonadism happens in adult men, the following problems could occur:
- You could become infertile.
- You could lose body hair or not be able to grow a beard.
- You could develop problems with your bone density. (Osteoporosis)
- You will lose sex drive.
- You could develop Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
- You will most likely lose muscle mass.
- You will have more body fat.
- You could develop male breasts.
- You may have mood swings and be abnormally depressed.
- You will be more fatigued and more irritable.
I can tell you from personal experience that I developed most of these before I was diagnosed with Hypogonadism. I just thought it was because I was getting older. I was in my 50’s when I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and low testosterone.
Guys, if you have even some of these symptoms, get some bloodwork done and make sure you haven’t developed these issues as I did. I worked too many hours and did not take proper care of myself because of that. Don’t make the same mistakes I made. Take care of yourself now.
Can Hypogonadism and Low Testosterone be Cured?
In general, there is not an actual cure for this issue. If you find out you have a curable disease, you may be able to get most of your sexual functionality back.
The main treatment prescribed is what is called Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). I will tell you upfront, I am not a fan of TRT because of all the side effects that are proven to happen to many men.
TRT is usually given as a gel you put on your skin, by a transdermal patch or by getting it injected with a needle. I hate needles! There are some forms of testosterone that can be taken orally, but they are not used because of the negative side effects and stomach issues.
TRT does not help all males. It totally depends on the symptoms and type of hypogonadism you have.
If it works for you, here are some of the benefits you will see:
- You should see an increased sex drive.
- Your mood should be much better and you should not be depressed.
- You should be able to increase your lean muscle mass with the correct exercise.
- Your bone density will increase.
- You can expect to have more energy, stamina, and endurance.
- Your overall quality of life should be much improved.
But remember, TRT is definitely not for everyone and you and doctor would have to work together to determine if it is a viable option for your situation.
Some of the risks that come with TRT are:
- Sleep Apnea
- Congestive heart failure
- Worsening of existing prostate cancers.
- Potential for blood clots and increased risk of stroke.
These side effects generally go away if TRT is stopped.
Also, be aware that TRT will not restore fertility if you have become infertile.
If you Have the Symptoms, Get Checked and Get Some Help.
As I mentioned earlier, if you are having the symptoms I described, please get checked out and start working on getting better. You want to be the best man you can be so don’t delay.
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Best of luck!