Both men and women can have hypogonadism, a condition characterized by decreased functioning of the testes or ovaries. Men with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, or HH, have abnormally low levels of luteinizing hormone, or LH, and follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, two hormones produced by the pituitary gland that are essential for sperm production. Human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced by the placenta in pregnancy, can help stimulate sperm production in men with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism.
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Hypogonadism can occur as an inherited condition present from birth or may occur later in life from conditions such as weight loss, stress, severe illness or use of drugs such as anabolic steroids. To improve sperm count, men with HH often take injectable forms of LH and FSH. Since human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as hCG, has similar structure and effects as LH, it is often given in conjunction with LH to stimulate testosterone production, which leads to increased sperm production.
In a Japanese review of 30 years of data published in the June 2005 issue of the "Journal of Urology" on the use of hCG in men with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, treatment with hCG and human menopausal gonadotropin for periods ranging between 12 and 240 months induced sperm production in 71 percent of men who had large testis but only 36 percent of men with small testis achieved the same result. An Italian study published in the August 1992 issue of the "International Journal of Andrology" reported better results, with 60 percent of small testis men and 90 percent of men with large testis producing sperm after long-term treatment of 14 to 120 months.
Side effects of hCG therapy in males include headache, fluid retention, breast tenderness or swelling or irritability. Young boys given hCG may experience symptoms of early puberty. Since hCG must be injected with a needle, you could also develop irritation or infection at the injection site.
Males with hypogonadism can experience loss of self esteem as well as infertility. They may lack secondary sex characteristics and may be shorter than normal in some cases. Hormone treatment with hCG and other gonadotropins can help restore secondary sex characteristics and improve body image, as well as improve chances of producing enough sperm to result in impregnation.