Blurred Lines: 5 Clear Differences Between Andropause and Hypogonadism

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As men get older, various health difficulties can arise. One of the top problems most men suffer from is hypogonadism. This is when the body fails to produce enough of the male sex hormone testosterone, leading to a variety of unwanted symptoms, including erectile dysfunction.

Unfortunately, a lot of older men simply think this is all part of the aging process and they cannot do anything to rectify it. In fact, the majority of men believe that they are simply going through andropause, the masculine equivalent of menopause. This means that many cases of hypogonadism go undiagnosed, which in turns leave many men to unnecessarily suffer the consequences.

Let’s learn more about hypogonadism and andropause in detail.

1. The Contrasting Definitions of These Conditions

consult a doctorLet’s begin by taking a quick look at the definitions of these two conditions.

  • Andropause: This is the part of a man’s life when his hormone production begins to naturally decrease. It commonly occurs between the ages of 35 and 60, but can occur outside this age bracket, as well. The hormone levels gradually decrease over time.
  • Hypogonadism: This is a medical condition in which the male’s body simply does not produce testosterone, the male sexual hormone, in sufficient quantities. This may be due to a wide variety of reasons including stress, trauma or a bad diet.

These conditions are different, but you can get rid of both of them. You don’t need to suffer in silence. With treatment, you can still lead a happy and healthy life. However, in order to treat such conditions early, you need to consult a doctor if you notice any of the unusual symptoms.

2. The Top Causes of Andropause and Hypogonadism

Know What Causes Andropause

the bodyAndropause is a natural part of a man’s life. It occurs because the body simply slows down the production levels of a variety of hormones, including testosterone. The male body also begins to produce more sex hormone binding globulin or SHBG, which works to remove testosterone from the blood stream.
So, not only are sufferers of andropause producing less testosterone, but they are also losing the testosterone they already have because of SHBG. The testosterone available in your system for use is known as “bioavailable testosterone.” Essentially, andropause occurs when you have low amounts of bioavailable testosterone.

Understand the Various Causes of Hypogonadism

Before we look at the causes of hypogonadism, we need to make the distinction between the two primary forms of this condition. There is primary hypogonadism and secondary hypogonadism.

  • brainPrimary hypogonadism is a condition where the problem lies in the testes that prevents them from creating testosterone.
  • Secondary hypogonadism involves a negative influence from the brain that prevents the production of testosterone. This usually occurs when certain parts of the brain are unable to send messages to the testicles instructing them to produce the hormone.

It is worth noting that in secondary hypogonadism, the testicles are not directly affected. In fact, the testicles in such patients are perfectly normal.

Let’s begin by looking at the causes of primary hypogonadism.

What You Should Know About Primary Hypogonadism

  • Aging: As we age, our bodies don’t function as well as they used to when we were young. Hormone production levels naturally decrease with time. Women suffer from this more severely than men due to menopause, but men can still lose one to two percent of their hormone production levels each year.
  • Klinefelter Syndrome: This is a genetic condition leading to an abnormality in the sex chromosomes. In males, this condition causes a man to have extra ‘Y’ chromosomes, causing the testicles to develop in abnormal ways and function incorrectly. This leads to a lack of testosterone.
  • older ageTesticle Displacement: This occurs when one or both testicles don’t descend properly during the natural course of life. This condition is usually obvious from an early age, but it can continue well into adulthood if left untreated. If a man reaches an older age without one or both of his testicles properly descending, they won’t be able to produce the proper amounts of testosterone.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy, used for the treatment of cancer, has the chance of interfering with testosterone production. The radiation used in this sort of treatment can directly damage the testicles. This damage is usually only temporary, but it may be permanent in certain cases.

All About Secondary Hypogonadism

Here are some common causes of secondary hypogonadism.

  • Kallman Syndrome: In this condition, the hypothalamus gland has not developed properly due to a genetic abnormality. This means the brain is unable to send messages effectively around the body, including to the testicles. Another big symptom of Kallman Syndrome is the loss or impairment of the sense of smell.
  • Pituitary Disorders: The pituitary gland is a vital part of the brain that is responsible for various growth processes throughout the body. The presence of a tumor or damage on the pituitary gland hinders its functionality.
  • Inflammatory Diseases: Some examples of this type of disease are sarcoidosis and tuberculosis. An inflammatory disease may affect the brain, preventing significant parts like the hypothalamus or pituitary gland from functioning properly. This can interfere with testosterone production.
  • pituitary glandMedications: Certain medications come with the unwanted side effect of reducing testosterone production. The primary culprits are pain killers or other pills that affect opioid receptors.
  • Stress: Stress can cause diverse health problems in your bodies, including hypogonadism. Stress causes the release of chemicals in the brain that can interfere with many different bodily processes. It can cause trouble for the hypothalamus, preventing the brain from sending signals to the testicles.

In addition, your body releases cortisol when you feel stressed. Cortisol is a hormone that is made up from many of the same molecules as testosterone. Therefore, if your body is producing lots of cortisol, testosterone production will be limited.

  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese can interfere with hormone production too. If you have too much body fat, your body can convert testosterone to the female sex hormone, estrogen. This lowers your testosterone levels and comes with various other symptoms as well.

3. Understanding the Undesirable Symptoms of These Conditions

The Typical Symptoms of Andropause

Here are the most common symptoms associated with andropause:

  • Low levels of hemoglobin in the blood, which can lead to anemia
  • fracture
    Photo by Just some dust / CC BY

    Weaker bones, which break and fracture more easily

  • Weaker muscles
  • Increased amounts of body fat
  • Fatigue and low energy levels in general
  • A lack of interest in physical activity
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Hair loss
  • Irritable Male Syndrome or IMS, where men feel moody and angry for no obvious reason
  • A lack of sexual desire
  • Erectile dysfunction

These symptoms can vary in severity depending on various factors. Andropause may influence the presence of these symptoms, but your diet and lifestyle will have an impact as well.

If you don’t exercise and have a poor diet, problems like erectile dysfunction and cholesterol are more likely to occur. Furthermore, the presence of other conditions or diseases can also worsen the symptoms of andropause. Some examples are diabetes, depression and thyroid problems.

The Many Symptoms of Hypogonadism

The symptoms of hypogonadism will vary depending on the age of the sufferer. If the hypogonadism manifests itself at an early age before puberty, symptoms may be more severe.

Here are the symptoms in boys who have hypogonadism before puberty.

  • Delayed puberty
  • Lack of pubic and facial hair
  • Voice doesn’t break
  • Sperm is not produced in the testes, infertility
  • Testes do not grow
  • Penis does not grow
  • Bones and muscles are relatively weak

wrinkled skinHere are the symptoms for men of a sexually mature age.

  • Infrequent erections
  • Lack of sexual desire
  • Fatigue
  • Easily distracted
  • Loss of hair around the body
  • Low sperm count
  • Mood swings
  • Excess body fat
  • Weak bones
  • Small testes
  • The development of breast tissue
  • Lack of muscle and endurance
  • Wrinkled skin

Be aware that there are various other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. If you suffer from any of the above problems, get yourself tested by a medical professional.

4. How Do Doctors Diagnose These Problems?

Diagnosing Andropause: A Simple Blood Test

Diagnosing andropause is much simpler than diagnosing hypogonadism. For this condition, the doctor has to simply perform a blood test. This will determine the amount of free testosterone in your blood. The doctor will compare the results with the average to effectively confirm or deny the presence of andropause.

Diagnosing Hypogonadism: A Complicated Process

perform a blood test
Photo by Wheeler Cowperthwaite / CC BY

For hypogonadism, doctors will want to know your entire medical history. Your doctor will find out when your testicles descended and at what age you began undergoing the changes of puberty. The patient will also go through various examinations and tests, mostly to determine the size and location of the testes inside the scrotum.

Doctors will do blood tests to measure testosterone levels in your body and other examinations to check for different conditions. If your blood has low amounts of testosterone, additional blood tests will be required.

These tests will verify the presence of other hormones in your blood to help determine between primary or secondary hypogonadism. If you have low testosterone in your blood, but normal amounts of other hormones then you are most likely suffering from primary hypogonadism. Meanwhile, if you have low testosterone and low levels of other hormones, secondary hypogonadism is the most likely answer.

As the doctor discovers more about your condition, they may conduct additional examinations such as semen analysis, bone density tests and ultrasound scans of the scrotum. These tests are painless and help the practitioner to devise the most effective treatment plan.

5. What Treatment Methods Are Available?

Know the Andropause Treatments

You might be wondering why andropause isn’t treated in the same way as hypogonadism. After all, andropause involves a low amount of testosterone, so it would make sense for doctors to simply provide a boost of testosterone to their patients.

You can take testosterone in a variety of forms, from injections to tablets or creams. Testosterone replacement therapy or TRT seems like the obvious method. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work out that way in the case of andropause. The goal of the treatment is to raise testosterone levels, but TRT comes with a lot of risks.

testosteroneThe risks of prostate cancer are elevated in patients who undergo TRT. It can also interfere with sperm production and give men a higher chance of having a stroke. Therefore, doctors prefer to focus on less invasive measures when it comes to andropause. This condition is less severe than hypogonadism, and therefore, doctors can treat it more passively.

Doctors may recommend dietary changes, more exercise, abandoning smoking or alcohol, and other healthy lifestyle modifications that can make a big difference to your health. They could also suggest that you begin taking certain herbal supplements or remedies to help with the symptoms of andropause.

Know the Hypogonadism Treatments

If you are suffering from hypogonadism, doctors will want to help your body to begin producing testosterone in sufficient amounts. If you are suffering from secondary hypogonadism, other hormone levels may be low and the doctors will want to encourage production of these hormones, too.

Thorough testing is required to determine the type of hypogonadism from which a patient is suffering. Once testing is complete, your doctor will talk to you about your options and decide on the most suitable form of treatment for you. They will also recommend various lifestyle changes to encourage hormone production throughout your body.

Back to Normal: Testosterone Replacement Therapy or TRT

The most commonly-used form of treatment for hypogonadism is testosterone replacement therapy or TRT. This works by effectively boosting your testosterone levels back up to the normal amount.

The benefits of this treatment are as follows:

  • Sexual desire will be restored
  • Bones will become stronger
  • Other hormone production levels may become normalized
  • Your risk of heart disease will be lowered
  • Fertility may be restored

What You Need to Know About HGH Treatment to Increase Testosterone

ginkgo bilobaYou might be wondering about the benefits and drawbacks of HGH or human growth hormone treatment. Safe HGH treatment doesn’t actually involve the injection of HGH. Instead, it makes use of “HGH releasers” to trigger your body into naturally producing more of this powerful hormone.

HGH releasers contain various herbal extracts and amino acids. They work by encouraging your pituitary gland to produce extra HGH. In turn, this can help slow the aging process, boost muscle mass, help you lose weight and reinvigorate your libido. HGH releasers can make a big difference to men suffering from the symptoms of andropause or hypogonadism.

You can live a fulfilled life by making use of a HGH releaser, but you need to find the right product. Focus on releasers that contain herbs like ginkgo biloba and muira pauma. In addition, keep an eye out for soy phytosterol complex and panax ginseng. These ingredients will make the HGH releaser highly effective.

If you are struggling with any unusual symptoms, the first thing to do is stop worrying. Every man suffers from many of these symptoms at some point in his life. It’s completely natural. A lack of testosterone can harm your confidence, but you need to know that you are not alone. Report your symptoms to a doctor and take back control of your life.

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