The clinical term for testosterone deficiency in young men is “hypogonadism.” An article in the Daily Mail reports that substances like marijuana or cannabis may contribute to impotence among teenage boys. Testosterone levels may go down temporarily after exposure to cannabinoids in marijuana. A study published in the “Journal of Theoretical Biology” indicates that testosterone returns to pre-smoking levels 24 hours after smoking a marijuana cigarette. Marijuana, however, is not the sole contributor to testosterone deficiency in young men.
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Indicators of hypogonadism in young men are gametogenesis deficiency and gonad hormone deficiency. Testosterone is a gonad hormone and gametogenesis involves the development and production of male sperm cells. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists suggests that young men with total testosterone levels that are below 200 ng/dl may be candidates for therapeutic intervention.
The general cause of testosterone deficiency or hypogonadism in young men is insufficient testicular secretion of testosterone. Primary and secondary hypogonadism originate from different biological conditions. Primary hypogonadism originates from testicular abnormalities such as Klinefelter’s syndrome, undecended testicles or hemochromatosis. Primary hypogonadism is also known as primary testicular failure. The cause of secondary hypogonadism is defective pituitary gland functioning. The pituitary gland is connected to the brain and controls hormone production.
A study published in the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism” evaluated conditions that occur in young men with testosterone deficiency. The study concluded that testosterone deficiency is associated with lower strength and protein anabolism in young men. Metabolic processes like muscular growth and recovery require protein anabolism. Young men with low testosterone levels experienced higher adiposity and lower fat oxidation. Adiposity refers to fat stores in the body and fax oxidation refers to the metabolic process that “burns” fat for energy. Other symptoms of testosterone deficiency in young men include impotence, loss of libido and inability or poor ability to concentrate.
Testosterone deficiency in young men is associated with other conditions. A history of testosterone deficiency in a young man’s family may indicate an underlying genetic basis for low testosterone levels. Genetic syndromes like Klinefelter’s syndrome are associated with hypogonadism. Congenital disorders like anarchism are associated with hypogonadism. Toxic exposures such as radiation or chemotherapy may contribute to testicular failure that causes testosterone deficiency. Endocrine deficiencies such as central hypothyroidism or secondary adrenal insufficiency contribute to testosterone deficiencies in young men.
Diagnosing testosterone deficiency in young men involves clinical laboratory testing that evaluates hormone levels and tries to identify any contributing conditions. Clinicians conduct hormone level tests at the beginning of the day, because testosterone levels are highest in the morning. A semen analysis and testicular biopsy may indicate testicular disorders. Pituitary imaging can help identify pituitary abnormalities. Genetic studies may reveal genetic abnormalities that contribute to insufficient hormone production.
Treatment for hypogonadism in young men involves testosterone replacement therapy. Replacement therapy may involve testosterone injections. Topical treatments may include testosterone patches or topical gel. Gonadal stimulation therapy such as human chorionic gonadotropin stimulation therapy or gonadotropin-releasing hormone pump therapy may benefit young men with testosterone deficiencies who are interested in fertility.