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What is Testicular Failure?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Testicular failure occurs when a male's testicles do not produce either male hormones or sperm. This condition is rare, and it can cause problems such as infertility and unusually feminine physical characteristics. Trauma or some drugs can cause this condition, and sometimes it may not be reversible.

Some of the most prominent signs of testicular failure include infertility and a low sex drive. Since the testicles can not produce sperm, this often leads to the man being infertile, or unable to have children. His sex drive will also be affected, since his testicles can not produce testosterone.

The sex organs of a man with failure of the testicles may also be physically different than other average males of the same age. Either one or both of his testicles may be smaller than normal, or shrunken. His penis may also be considered much smaller. Sometimes, it may be difficult to tell if a child is male or female when he is first born, if he suffers from testicular failure.

Increased breast size, known as gynecomastia, is another common symptom of testicular failure. Men with this condition will also usually appear more feminine than other men. They may be shorter and possibly have less body and facial hair. Individuals born with this condition may also reach puberty much slower than their peers.

There are several causes of testicular failure. Certain drugs can cause the condition. The antifungal medication ketoconazole, and opioids have both been linked to this condition.

Prolonged use of marijuana is also believed to cause testicular failure. Disease of and injury to the testicles also can cause it. Certain individuals with chromosome abnormalities may also be born with this condition.

Before making a positive diagnosis, a doctor must first perform a thorough exam. This will often include a physical exam, as well as other tests. During the physical exam, he will usually note the size of the testicles. A sperm count may also be necessary, as well as blood tests, which can indicate an abnormally low level of the male hormone testosterone.

Testosterone replacement therapy may be one course of treatment for some men with testicular failure. This will usually help young patients develop normally, and older patients can benefit by the restoration of their sex drive. The use of male hormone supplements, however, will not always restore a man's ability to have children.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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