Problems & Treatments of the Gonads

Problems & Treatments of the Gonads
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  • 0:00 The Gonads
  • 0:19 Hypergonadism
  • 1:48 Hypogonadism
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Can men develop breasts? Can you reach puberty several years before the normal age of onset of puberty? The answers may surprise you as we discuss some of the problems related to the gonads.

The Gonads

It has been said that kids seem to be reaching puberty sooner than ever before, and there are confirmed cases where girls as young as six years old have given birth to children. Why do some people reach puberty far earlier than others? Why do some people have fewer sex hormones produced by the age of puberty? And can men develop breasts like those found in women? Stay tuned.


Hypergonadism is a condition characterized by the abnormally increased activity of the gonads, leading to the increased secretion of gonadal hormones. 'Hyper-' means 'abnormally increased' and 'gonad' refers to the gonads, the glands that make sex hormones. In males they are the testicles, and in females they are the ovaries.

Think of these gonads as factories creating a product, the sex hormones. In hypergonadism, the factories are working overtime to produce and secrete sex hormones, flooding the market, the body, with way more supply than necessary. This condition can occur in both males and females, and while it isn't always clear why this happens, tumors in the gonads, or in the pituitary gland, can cause hypergonadism.

In boys afflicted with hypergonadism, the onset of puberty occurs several years earlier than normal. This means they will develop a beard and pubic hair and stop growing sooner than expected. They will be able to reproduce even before age 10.

In girls with hypergonadism, puberty starts years earlier than normal as well. This means girls with hypergonadism can become fertile, and thus pregnant, even before the age of 8. The way this condition is treated is by the removal of any tumors that are present and through the administration of hormones that will suppress the sex hormones causing hypergonadism.


The opposite of hypergonadism is hypogonadism, a condition where the production of sex hormones is abnormally low by the normal age of puberty. 'Hypo-' implies an abnormal decrease in something. The cause for this problem in males includes dysfunctional, missing or undescended testicles, meaning they are not in the testicular sac. For females, missing or dysfunctional ovaries are to blame.

Since the factory producing these sex hormones is either missing or dysfunctional in hypogonadism, the sex hormones aren't produced and secreted in adequate amounts. Without this product, the sex hormones, the body malfunctions as well.

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