Hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Assosciate Editor(s)-In-Chief: Prashanth Saddala M.B.B.S

Synonyms and keywords: Secondary hypoganadism; Central hypogonadism; gonadotropin-releasing hormone deficiency; gonadotropin deficiency; HH; primary HH, secondary HH; syndromic HH; isolated hypogonadotropic hypogonadism; primary hypogonadotropic hypogonadism


Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism is a condition which is characterized by hypogonadism due to an impaired secretion of gonadotropins, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), by the pituitary gland in the brain, and in turn decreased gonadotropin levels and a resultant lack of sex steroid production.[1]


The type of HH, based on its cause, may be classified as either primary or secondary.

Primary Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism

Primary HH, also called isolated HH, is responsible for only a small subset of cases of HH, and is characterized by an otherwise normal function and anatomy of the hypothalamus and anterior pituitary. It is caused by congenital syndromes such as Kallmann syndrome and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) insensitivity.

Secondary Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism

Secondary HH, also known as acquired or syndromic HH, is far more common than primary HH, and is responsible for most cases of the condition. It has a multitude of different causes, including brain or pituitary tumors, pituitary apoplexy, head trauma, ingestion of certain drugs, and certain systemic diseases and syndromes.[1]



Symptoms of hypogonadism include

Differentiating hypogonadism from other diseases:

Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism should be differentiated from other diseases causing hypogonadism like features.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Diseases Onset Manifestations Diagnosis
History and Symptoms Physical examination Laboratory findings Gold standard Imaging Other investigation findings
Trumatic delivery Lactation failure Menstrual irregularities Other features
Sheehan's syndrome Acute ++ ++ Oligo/amenorrhea Symptoms of:
  • Clinical diagnosis
  • Most senitive test: Low baseline prolactin levels w/o response to TRH
  • Sequential changes of pituitary enlargement followed by:
  • Shrinkage and necrosis leading to decreased sellar volume or empty sella
Lymphocytic hypophysitis Acute +/- + Oligo/amenorrhea
  • Retro-orbital or Bitemporal pain
  • Diffuse and homogeneous contrast enhancement
Assays for:
  • Anti-TPO
  • Anti-Tg Ab
Pituitary apoplexy Acute +/- ++ Oligo/amenorrhea Severe headache
  • Decreased levels of anterior pituitary hormones in blood.
  • CT scan without contrast: Hemorrhage on CT presents as a hyperdense lesion

Blood tests may be done to check:

Empty sella syndrome Chronic - + Oligo/amenorrhea
  • Decreased levels of pituitary hormones in blood.
Simmonds' disease/Pituitary cachexia Chronic +/- + Oligo/amenorrhea
  • Loss of body hair
  • Decreased levels of anterior pituitary hormones in blood.
  • Done to rule out any pituitary cause
Hypothyroidism Chronic +/- - Oligomenorrhea/menorrhagia
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Normal/ low TSH
  • Rest of pituitary hormone levels WNL
  • Done to rule out any pituitary cause
  • Assays for anti-TPO and anti-Tg Ab
  • FNA biopsy
Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism Chronic - - Oligo/amenorrhea
  • Energy and mood changes
  • Done to rule out any pituitary cause
Hypoprolactinemia Chronic - + -
  • Puerperal agalactogenesis
  • No workup is necessary
  • Decreased prolactin levels
  • Done to rule out any pituitary cause
Panhypopituitarism Chronic - + Oligo/amenorrhea
  • All pituitary hormones decreased
  • Done to rule out any pituitary cause
Primary adrenal insufficiency/Addison's disease Chronic - - -
  • Abdominal CT
  • Abdominal CT
  • Anti-adrenal Ab testing
Menopause Chronic - +/- Oligo/amenorrhea Normal


Treatment of HH may consist of administration of either a GnRH agonist or a gonadotropin formulation in the case of primary HH and treatment of the root cause (e.g., a tumor) of the symptoms in the case of secondary HH. Alternatively, hormone replacement therapy with androgens and estrogens in males and females, respectively, may be employed.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Isolated Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Deficiency Overview - GeneReviews™ - NCBI Bookshelf".
  2. Sato N, Sze G, Endo K (1998). "Hypophysitis: endocrinologic and dynamic MR findings". AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 19 (3): 439–44. PMID 9541295.
  3. Powrie JK, Powell M, Ayers AB, Lowy C, Sönksen PH (1995). "Lymphocytic adenohypophysitis: magnetic resonance imaging features of two new cases and a review of the literature". Clin. Endocrinol. (Oxf). 42 (3): 315–22. PMID 7758238.
  4. Honegger J, Schlaffer S, Menzel C, Droste M, Werner S, Elbelt U, Strasburger C, Störmann S, Küppers A, Streetz-van der Werf C, Deutschbein T, Stieg M, Rotermund R, Milian M, Petersenn S (2015). "Diagnosis of Primary Hypophysitis in Germany". J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 100 (10): 3841–9. doi:10.1210/jc.2015-2152. PMID 26262437.
  5. Thodou E, Asa SL, Kontogeorgos G, Kovacs K, Horvath E, Ezzat S (1995). "Clinical case seminar: lymphocytic hypophysitis: clinicopathological findings". J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 80 (8): 2302–11. doi:10.1210/jcem.80.8.7629223. PMID 7629223.
  6. Imura H, Nakao K, Shimatsu A, Ogawa Y, Sando T, Fujisawa I, Yamabe H (1993). "Lymphocytic infundibuloneurohypophysitis as a cause of central diabetes insipidus". N. Engl. J. Med. 329 (10): 683–9. doi:10.1056/NEJM199309023291002. PMID 8345854.
  7. Hsieh CY, Liu BY, Yang YN, Yin WH, Young MS (2011). "Massive pericardial effusion with diastolic right ventricular compression secondary to hypothyroidism in a 73-year-old woman". Emerg Med Australas. 23 (3): 372–5. doi:10.1111/j.1742-6723.2011.01425.x. PMID 21668725.
  8. Dejager S, Gerber S, Foubert L, Turpin G (1998). "Sheehan's syndrome: differential diagnosis in the acute phase". J. Intern. Med. 244 (3): 261–6. PMID 9747750.

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