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Thyroid & Sexual Dysfunction – What is the Connection?

Thyroid & Sexual Dysfunction – What is the Connection?

Medically reviewed by

Natalie Bessom, D.O. Board-certified family medicine doctor with specialty training in nutrition, USA

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Medically reviewed by

Natalie Bessom, D.O. Board-certified family medicine doctor with specialty training in nutrition, USA

Most often people generally do not think their thyroid health has any connection to their sex drive. The thyroid gland, however, plays a major part in regulating all the hormones in your body – including those that involve sexual health and pleasure. 

It is common for people to discuss the most common symptoms of a thyroid disorder like weight gain, hair loss, and fatigue. However, a loss of healthy sex drive is often overlooked even though it can be one of the most intimate parts of a person’s life.

How is your thyroid connected to your sex drive?

A thyroid disorder can be linked to sexual dysfunction and impact your sex drive. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be linked to sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction (ED) in men, painful intercourse for women, and a low libido (sex drive) in both genders. 

Studies show that between 46-63% of patients with hypothyroidism and 44-78% of those with hyperthyroidism experience sexual dysfunction. 

Both men and women may find their sex drive or even their ability to take part in sexual activites may be hindered due to symptoms of fatigue, depression, and weight gain.

What types of sexual problems may occur with a thyroid issue in men and women?

A thyroid disease can have a unique and varying impact on men vs women. 

Women may experience: 

  • A loss of sex drive: when you have a thyroid disorder, it may result in lower amounts of testostrone. Testosterone can affect your sex drive and with lesser amounts present, it will cause your libido to lower. Testosterone is often considered a “male” hormone, but women produce and require this hormone too.
  • Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD): Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder defined as the absence of sexual fantasies and thoughts, and/or desire for or receptivity to, sexual activity that causes the personal distress or difficulties in her relationship. HSDD can be caused by a number of reasons including hormone imbalance or a side effect of certain medications. 
  • Painful sex: Thyroid disease can lower vaginal lubriaction and cause dryness. This can make sex uncomfortable or painful. Vaginal dryness during intercourse can cause friction or irritation. 

Men may experience: 

  • Erectile Dysfunction (ED): Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or keep an erection during intercourse. A study conducted showed that out of 71 men with a thyroid condition, 79% had a certain degree of erectile dysfunction. 
  • Ejaculation Issues: Depending on the type of thyroid condition a male may have, it can affect their ejaculation. Recent studies show that men with hypothyroidism are more prone to delayed ejaculation, while men with hyperthyroidism may experience premature ejaculation. 
  • Low Sex Drive: Similarily to women, men with thyroid issues can experience a low sex drive. This is due to the hormone imbalances caused by a thyroid disorder. 

What are the forms of treatment?

It may seem obvious but treating a sexual dysfunction may involve starting or making adjustments to thyroid medications and/or treating the sexual issue directly. 

With proper treatment and on-going management, the symptoms of sexual dysfunction can subside. 

If you experience any of the symptoms that were mentioned above, consult your healthcare provider right away. 

How to cope with sexual dysfunction

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A fulfilling and healthy sex life can not only be a vital component to one’s overall health but also their personal relationships. 

Having a sexual dysfunction disorder can not only be straining on the individual but also for their partner as well. 

For you and your partner to maintain a healthy sex life and overcome the hurdles that come with sexual dysfunction, your partner must have a full understanding of your thyroid condition and how it affects you. 

Talk it through

As cliché as it sounds, communication is key. Make sure you and your partner talk through each other’s concerns, needs, and how to work together to find a solution. A relationship is a two way street! 

Experiment

One of the symptoms that women can face with a thyroid disorder is painful intercourse due to vaginal dryness. Experiment with different solutions to help alleviate the pain such as lubricants. 

A low sex drive is a common symptom in both men and women. Try using sex toys such as vibrators to help if you or your partner has difficulty becoming aroused or reaching orgasm. 

Focus on your physical health

Weight gain is one of the more common symptoms of a thyroid disorder. This can be coupled with constantly being fatigued. 

The weight gain often times contributes to lower self-esteem and a negative body image, resulting in one’s low libido and sexual activity. 

Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help your thyroid medication work even better and also help with weight loss. 

Try other forms of intimacy

There are many other important aspects of a relationship besides sex. Try to focus on romance outside of the bedroom and turn to nurturing other parts of your relationship. 

If you are unsure about what aspects to concentrate on, try taking this 5 Love Language test with your partner!

The 5 Love Languages is a concept that was developed by Dr. Gary Chapman. The 5 love languages he details are: 

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch
  • Acts of Service
  • Receiving Gifts 

Each person has a different order of priorities and expresses love in a certain way. This can be a great exercise and starting point for realigning or refocusing your relationship, while taking the pressure off the performance in the bedroom. 

Key Takeaways

  • The thyroid gland plays a major part in regulating all the hormones in your body – including those that involve sexual health and pleasure 
  • One of the symptoms of a thyroid disorder is sexual dysfunction
  • Sexual dysfunction can occur in both men and women 
  • Starting or adjusting thyroid medication can help alleviate the symptoms of sexual dysfunction 
  • Other ways to cope with a sexual dysfunction caused by a thyroid disorder include: 
    • Communicating with your partner
    • Experimenting with new forms of intimacy in the bedroom
    • Focusing on your physical health 
    • Taking the romance out of the bedroom 

If you are worried about your thyroid health and how it can affect your sex life, consult your healthcare provider. ThyForLife is able to help you manage your symptoms, weight changes, medications, and supplements allowing you to focus on the more important aspects of your relationship. 

Our app will help you notice and better understand any changes that happen over time in your body. 

At ThyForLife, we do our utmost to provide accurate information. If you require more detailed information regarding medical terms, conditions, and practices please consult your healthcare professional. Always listen to the advice of your healthcare provider. 

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