What is the definition of Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism?
Hypogonadism is a condition in which the male testes or the female ovaries produce little or no sex hormones.
Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (HH) is a form of hypogonadism that is due to a problem with the pituitary gland or hypothalamus.
What are the alternative names for Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism?
Gonadotropin deficiency; Secondary hypogonadism
What are the causes for Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism?
HH is caused by a lack of hormones that normally stimulate the ovaries or testes. These hormones include gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
- The hypothalamus in the brain releases GnRH.
- This hormone stimulates the pituitary gland to release FSH and LH.
- These hormones tell the female ovaries or the male testes to release hormones that lead to normal sexual development in puberty, normal menstrual cycles, estrogen levels and fertility in adult women, and normal testosterone production and sperm production in adult men.
- Any change in this hormone release chain causes a lack of sex hormones. This prevents normal sexual maturity in children and normal function of the testicles or ovaries in adults.
There are several causes of HH:
- Damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus from surgery, injury, tumor, infection, or radiation
- Genetic defects
- High doses or long-term use of opioid or steroid (glucocorticoid) medicines
- High prolactin level (a hormone released by the pituitary)
- Severe stress
- Nutritional problems (both rapid weight gain or weight loss)
- Long-term (chronic) medical diseases, including chronic inflammation or infections
- Drug use, such as heroin or use or abuse of prescription opiate medicines
- Certain medical conditions, such as iron overload
Kallmann syndrome is an inherited form of HH. Some people with this condition also have anosmia (loss of the sense of smell).
What are the current treatments for Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism?
Treatment depends on the source of the problem, but may involve:
- Injections of testosterone (in males)
- Slow-release testosterone skin patch (in males)
- Testosterone gels (in males)
- Estrogen and progesterone pills or skin patches (in females)
- GnRH injections
- HCG injections
What is the outlook (prognosis) for Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism?
The right hormone treatment will cause puberty to start in children and may restore fertility in adults. If the condition begins after puberty or in adulthood, symptoms will often improve with treatment.
What are the possible complications for Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism?
Health problems that may result from HH include:
- Delayed puberty
- Early menopause (in females)
- Low bone density and fractures later in life
- Low self-esteem due to late start of puberty (emotional support may be helpful)
- Sexual problems, such as low libido
Bhasin S, Brito JP, Cunningham GR, et al. Testosterone therapy in men with hypogonadism: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2018;103(5):1715-1744. PMID: 29562364 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29562364.
Styne DM, Grumbach MM. Physiology and disorders of puberty. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 25.
White PC. Sexual development and identity. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 220.