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What is Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is absent or decreased function of the gonad, the organ responsible for making the cells necessary for reproduction. For males, the gonads are the testes, while for females the gonads are the ovaries. This condition results in a lack of sexual growth or maturity. Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is also referred to as gonadotropin deficiency, Kallmann Syndrome, and secondary hypogonadism.

One of this condition's alternate terms, secondary hypogonadism, is used to describe the manner of cause, which denotes that the malfunction is outside the gonad. Specifically, the defect lies with the hypothalamus in the brain, or the pituitary gland that protrudes beneath it. Gonadotropin deficiency is a term used to describe the absence of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The hypothalamus uses GnRH to induce the pituitary gland to release follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones are instrumental in triggering sexual development during puberty.

The term Kallmann Syndrome is used specifically in cases where the defect lies with the hypothalamus. It is also regarded as a form of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism that is inherited. Kallmann Syndrome was named after a German-American geneticist called Franz Josef Kallmann, who first described the medical condition in 1944.

The most prominent symptom of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is the lack of maturity traits such as hair in the pubic area and underarms. Other symptoms include underdeveloped testes and, in some cases, stunted physical growth. Kallmann Syndrome is notably associated with a loss of smell.

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Doctors can usually do a variety of related tests to determine the presence of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. They can run blood tests to find out the hormone levels of the body. Also, they may measure the LH response to the GnRH produced by the hypothalamus, or take a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain.

For males, treatment of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism usually involves testosterone injections, skin patches or gels. For females, estrogen or progesterone pills are typically prescribed. In some cases, doctors may inject GnRH. There may be some complications, however, that develop as a result of the treatments, such as infertility and postponed puberty.

Prevention of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism depends on what causes it. In some cases, the condition is inherited, so people who are worried about developing it can explore their genetic history with their physicians. Also, powerful blows to the head can adversely affect the pituitary gland, thus increasing the chance of getting hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. Children who have yet to reach puberty when they should have already are strongly encouraged to seek medical help.

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