June 19, 2008

5 Things You Didn’t Know About … Male Hypogonadism

1. Symptoms: The condition, whose prevalence is unknown, can occur at any age and results when the testicles don't produce enough testosterone or sperm. Symptoms in adult men include decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction and increased breast size. Some men develop hot flashes, depression and brittle bones.

2. Causes: The two basic types of hypogonadism are primary and secondary. The primary type originates in the testicles and causes include Klinefelter's syndrome, injury to the testicles and cancer treatments. The secondary type originates in the hypothalamus; causes include pituitary disorders, HIV/AIDS, certain medications and obesity.

3. Diagnosis: A physical exam, which usually includes a blood test, can confirm the diagnosis of hypogonadism. According to the Mayo Clinic, early diagnosis and treatment can lead to better protection against osteoporosis and other related conditions.

4. Treatment: Patients may be administered patches, implants, esters (deep, intramuscular injections) or gel to replace testosterone. The relatively new buccal testosterone preparation, in the form of a tablet that adheres to the gums, has been shown to achieve physiological levels of testosterone.

5. Research: Testosterone levels naturally decline with aging. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in January examined 237 healthy men ages 60-80 with low testosterone levels. They were randomly assigned to receive 80 mg of testosterone therapy or a placebo twice a day for six months. Only 207 men completed the study. Lean body mass increased and fat mass decreased in the testosterone group, not the placebo group. Cognitive function and bone mineral density did not change, and no negative effects on the prostate were detected.

The Miami Herald

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