Hypogonadism is a condition in which hormones are insufficiently produced by the gonads. In men, this leads to problems related to low testosterone production. In contrast, hypergonadism occurs when your testes produce hormones excessively, resulting in problems with having higher-than-normal testosterone levels.
Although less common than hypogonadism, hypergonadism can also impact your fertility. Hypergonadism can lead to more severe medical conditions related to your reproductive and sexual health.
#1 Symptoms Of Hypergonadism
When hypergonadism develops before puberty, it can result in precocious puberty. This means that changes related to sexual development and maturity happen early and rapidly. Precocious puberty occurs when puberty begins before age eight for girls and nine for boys. For both sexes, hypergonadism can cause early growth spurts, mood swings, and acne.
In boys, hypergonadism can cause the development of more muscle mass. It can also lead to an increased sex drive. Frequent nocturnal emissions or wet dreams are common in boys with hypergonadism.
The reproductive organs may also develop prematurely. In some instances, the reproductive organ may abnormally increase in size. In fact, enlarged penis and testicles are common symptoms of hypergonadism.
Hyperactive gonads can also cause spontaneous or random erections. Spontaneous erections happen involuntarily and randomly, which means they can occur even without sexual stimulation. Random erections can be very embarrassing, especially when they occur while in public or under circumstances wherein erections are inappropriate.
If hypergonadism occurs after puberty, it can lead to early baldness in men. Women who develop hypergonadism after puberty can experience abnormal facial hair growth. Other symptoms associated with hypergonadism include underdeveloped bones and coarse body hair. Men may lose their beard, while women may grow theirs.
#2 Causes Of Hypergonadism
There are instances when specialists are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of hypergonadism. These cases are referred to as idiopathic hypergonadism. In most cases of hypergonadism, though, it’s usually caused by an underlying medical condition.
When testicular cells grow abnormally, it can lead to the formation of tumors in the testes. These tumors can cause the gonads to become hyperactive, producing hormones excessively.
Liver or kidney diseases are also known to cause hypergonadism. Severe infections, surgery, and autoimmune disorders like Addison’s disease or Hashimoto’s disease are also known causes of hypergonadism.
When hormones like cortisol and aldosterone are insufficiently produced by the adrenal glands, the disorder is called Addison’s disease. Aside from the various symptoms of Addison’s disease like hyperpigmentation and extreme fatigue, it can also cause a hormonal imbalance and can lead to hypergonadism.
Hashimoto’s disease, on the other hand, is a disease wherein the thyroid is being attacked by the body’s immune system. The thyroid, as part of the endocrine system, also takes part in the production of various hormones like thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which help regulate the body’s temperature, heart rate, as well as metabolism.
However, Hashimoto’s disease will cause the thyroid to become underactive. This can then lead to hormonal imbalance and hypergonadism. Hashimoto’s disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can also cause a person to have a low heart rate, and to feel fatigue and joint and muscle pain.
Genetic hormonal abnormalities can lead to hyperactive gonads. Injuries to the endocrine glands or to the pituitary, adrenal, or pineal gland can also result in hypergonadism. Encephalitis and dropsy of the brain ventricles can also cause excessive hormonal production.
The use of anabolic steroids is also associated with hypergonadism. That’s because anabolic steroid supplementation can cause extremely high levels of various hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and other androgens.
#3 Complications That May Arise Due To Hypergonadism
Infertility is the number one problem related to hypergonadism. Women who have hypergonadism, for instance, often have irregular menstrual cycles. This leads to difficulties in getting pregnant. In certain cases, for women who develop hypergonadism after puberty, their menstrual cycle may completely stop, causing infertility.
In men, infertility is also a problem, especially if hypergonadism is caused by the use of anabolic steroids. These supplements can affect the health of the testicles and can lead to reduced sperm production.
Hypergonadism can also cause acne and other undesirable physical changes. For instance, men may develop more breast tissue, which can be very embarrassing.
#4 Treatments For Hypergonadism
Reducing hormone levels is actually more challenging than trying to raise hormone levels. This makes treatment of hypergonadism more difficult. Hormonal treatment is the most common type of treatment for hypergonadism.
However, hormonal treatment is considered a slow process. This is because the right mix of hormones and the right dosage needs to be determined first. This means that hormonal treatment is unique to each patient and has to be tailored specific to the patient’s hormone levels.
Treatment of hypergonadism also requires that the underlying cause should be determined. Once that’s identified, the underlying medical condition will need to be treated first. For example, if hypergonadism is caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland, then the tumor may need to be surgically removed.
There are also instances of hypergonadism caused by a severely underactive thyroid. If this is the underlying cause, your doctor may prescribe thyroid medications in strong doses to try and restore normal thyroid activity and function.
Supplementation with zinc, potassium citrate, and protein may also be prescribed, depending on the symptoms present. Medications like estrogen blockers may also be prescribed to reduce estrogen levels.
The hormonal imbalance caused by hypergonadism may cause too much production of estradiol, the form of estrogen that’s active in men. Or, the hormonal imbalance may also cause an increased conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
Although men also need a little bit of estrogen to allow their sperm cells to properly develop and to keep their brains and joints healthy, too much estrogen can cause a variety of problems. For instance, high levels of estrogen in men can increase the risks of stroke and cardiovascular diseases. It can also cause significant weight gain.
In the male reproductive system, high levels of estrogen can cause a man to develop breast tissue typically found in women, resulting in gynecomastia. Prostate problems may also follow, further leading to urinary, ejaculatory, and seminal fluid issues.