Causes of Infertility: Testosterone Deficiency (Male Hypogonadism)

Testosterone deficiency or male hypogonadism is among the many causes of infertility in men. Testosterone deficiency will cause a decreased sex drive, hair loss or erectile dysfunction. However, this condition is common and may be easily treated once detected.

Hypogonadism and Testosterone in Men

Hypogonadism is the lack of sufficient testosterone levels in the male body. The gonads are the testes (or ovaries for women) which produce the sexual hormones. If a man has hypogonadism, the gonads don’t function properly and will not secret sufficient testosterone. The testosterone is the male sexual hormone that is also present in women. The testosterone is needed for a man during his entire life, being an essential steroid. A lack of sufficient testosterone will result in infertility, a low sperm count, erectile dysfunction or a lack of libido.

Causes of Testosterone Deficiency

The causes of testosterone deficiency may be various. Aging is the main factor that may contribute to a decrease in the testosterone levels. The andropause or “male menopause” may cause hypogonadism. However, obesity may also lead to a testosterone deficiency. A high cholesterol will cause a drop in the testosterone levels. Nutritional deficiencies may also result in an abnormal level of testosterone. Zinc and proteins are essential for men.

Symptoms of Hypogonadism

Hypogonadism in men will cause several symptoms including:

  • Hair loss
  • Low sperm count
  • Infertility and incapacity to conceive (over 6 months of trial with a healthy partner)
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Diminished sexual characteristics, change in the tone of voice, less facial hair or body hair
  • Weight gain, especially in the buttocks, thighs and hips area
  • Occurrence of male breasts
  • Atrophied muscles
  • Constant fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Hot flushes
  • Abnormal sweating and night sweating
  • Dry skin
  • Dry and cracking nails

The lack of testosterone has been associated with cognitive problems and memory loss. This has lead to a possible cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, which may be solved with a hormone replacement treatment. However, there are still studies that should be performed to confirm this theory.

Detecting Testosterone Deficiency

The testosterone levels fluctuate during the life of a man and even during the day, and the normal values may differ from one man to the other. However, a few blood tests will determine if the testosterone levels are within the limits that are considered normal (300 - 1000ng/dl). The testicles may be consulted as they will decrease in size and will also lose firmness.

Hypogonadism Treatment Options

The treatment for male hypogonadism will depend on the causes of the condition and the severity of the condition. In some cases, a few nutritional supplements may be sufficient to restore the normal testosterone levels. In more severe cases of hypogonadism, the doctor will prescribe testosterone hormones. Testosterone replacement therapy may be recommended. The hormones may be administered orally or there is an intramuscular therapy available.

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