Thyroid Disorder And Men’s Sexual Health
A lot of people are well-aware that low testosterone levels can present with poor sex drive in men; but are you aware that there are several other endocrinological disorders that may also cause sexual dysfunction?
Thyroid disorder presents with a variety of disabling symptoms; one of which is low libido or poor sex drive. Thyroid disorder may be primary (due to a lesion or disorder of thyroid gland itself) or secondary (due to failure of hypothalamus or pituitary gland). It is imperative to mention that both hypo (low) as well as hyper (high) secretion of thyroid gland can lead to sexual complaints.
Thyroid Disorder And Sexual Health
According to a study published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (1), investigators analyzed sexual functions in 48 adult males with diagnosed thyroid disorder (14 males were hypothyroid and 34 males were hyperthyroid) and concluded that:
- Common sexual complaints in hyperthyroid males are; premature ejaculation (reported in more than 50% cases), erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation (reported in 3% cases) and poor libido.
- Common sexual complaints in hypothyroid males are; low sex drive (reported in 64% cases), loss of interest in sexual activities, erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation.
All the patients were prescribed adequate treatments to restore the hormonal balance over an 8-16 week therapy period. After the normalization of serum thyroid levels (as evidenced by serum levels of Thyroid stimulating hormone and Thyroid binding globulins), patients reported remarkable improvements in the sexual functions.
Besides males, females are also vulnerable to experience sexual disorders (such as menstrual irregularity, impaired fertility and altered libido) with abnormal thyroid hormone levels. If you are experiencing sexual dysfunction, it is highly recommended to see a healthcare professional for thorough hormonal investigation before opting for testosterone supplements.
Studies suggests that mild to moderate alterations in the secretion of thyroid hormone may have deleterious effects on the libido. Here is how thyroid affects male sexual functions.
- Depression is fairly common in hypothyroid individuals and various studies have linked depression with declining interest in the sexual activities.
- Low thyroid hormone reduces the speed of metabolism which directly affect your energy levels and stamina. People suffering from thyroid dysfunction report unexplained fatigue and tiredness which affects their interests and desires of engaging in sexual encounters.
- Impaired thyroid function also affects the balance of other endocrine hormones. Clinical data indicates that hyper or hypo-secretion of thyroid gland can also lead to impairment of testosterone or adrenal functions; thereby worsening sex drive and libido.
- Weight gain is another side effect of hypothyroidism. Various research and clinical studies suggests that weight gain or obesity directly affects the mechanics of sexual intercourse. Men also develop low self-esteem and poor image of self, which further diminishes their sex drive.
Some other endocrinological disorders that may also interfere with your libido and sexual health are (2):
- Chronic insulin insufficiency or diabetic neuropathy causes erectile dysfunction by interfering with vascular integrity and neurological functions.
- Low testosterone levels are known to reduce the frequency of nocturnal erection, alters libido and reduce the volume of ejaculate.
- High serum levels of prolactin (as seen in Prolactinomas or prolactin secreting tumors) can also interfere with the sex drive and sexual functions.
- Adrenal disorders (hyper or hypo-secretion) is a well—established cause of hypogonadism, since adrenal glands plays an important role in the secretion of sex hormones.
- Chronically impaired thyroid functions can also aggravate the risk of end-organ damage and a variety of other complications such as cardiovascular damage. All these factors can further deteriorate your sex life.
What Can You Do To Restore Your Sexual Health If You Are Hypothyroid?
If you are suspecting a thyroid disorder, speak to a healthcare professional to test your thyroid functions. TSH levels (or thyroid stimulating hormone) are usually helpful in determining the cause/ source of primary pathology. You can also get benefitted from a variety of treatment options to address your hormonal needs; such as:
- Thyroid replacement therapy (if you are hypothyroid)
- Oral drugs or surgery if you are hyperthyroid.
- Weight management and dietary modification.
1. Carani, C., Isidori, A. M., Granata, A., Carosa, E., Maggi, M., Lenzi, A., & Jannini, E. A. (2005). Multicenter study on the prevalence of sexual symptoms in male hypo-and hyperthyroid patients. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 90(12), 6472-6479.
2. Bhasin, S., Enzlin, P., Coviello, A., & Basson, R. (2007). Sexual dysfunction in men and women with endocrine disorders. The Lancet, 369(9561), 597-611.
3. Maggi, M., Buvat, J., Corona, G., Guay, A., & Torres, L. O. (2013). Hormonal causes of male sexual dysfunctions and their management (hyperprolactinemia, thyroid disorder, GH disorders, and DHEA). The journal of sexual medicine, 10(3), 661-677.