Men: Is Your Thyroid Causing Sexual Problems?

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It's common knowledge that endocrine disorders—diabetes for example—can have an effect on men's sexual function, desire, performance, and even reproduction. The connection between thyroid disease and men's sexual functions—and thyroid disease as a cause of sexual problems in men—is not as widely understood or known.

The Link Between Men's Sexual Problems and the Thyroid

One study released by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) reported on the demonstrable connection between specific sexual problems in men and thyroid conditions, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, in those men.

The study looked at men with both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The men were evaluated for a variety of common sexual problems, including a low sex drive (also known as hypoactive sexual desire or low libido), erectile dysfunction (ED) (an inability to obtain or maintain an erection), premature ejaculation, and delayed ejaculation.

As part of the JCEM study, the men were examined twice, once while symptomatic, and a second time approximately 8 to 16 weeks after their thyroid levels had returned to normal reference ranges.

The study found that among HYPOTHYROID men...

  • Low sex drive, delayed ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction were complaints in 64.3% of men. 
  • Premature ejaculation was a complaint in 7.1% of men

Among HYPERTHYROID men...

  • Premature ejaculation was a complaint in 50% of men
  • Low sex drive was a complaint in 17.6% of men
  • Erectile dysfunction was a complaint in 14.7%
  • Delayed ejaculation was a complaint in 2.9% of men

    Almost two-thirds of the hypothyroid men were complaining about some degree of erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation. And hyperthyroidism appeared to be linked to premature ejaculation in half of the men, while low sex drive and erectile dysfunction were both complaints by subsets of the men.

     

    According to the researchers, proper diagnosis, and treatment to return a man to "normal" thyroid function -- known as euthyroidism -- was found to reverse most sexual symptoms in men.

    Another study also published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism looked at the effects of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism on men's sexual function. According to a summary from the American Thyroid Association:

    • 79% of men with thyroid dysfunction showed some level of erectile dysfunction. 52% of them were hypothyroid, and 27% hyperthyroid, compared to 34% in men without thyroid problems
    • Severe erectile dysfunction was found in almost 38% of the men with hypothyroidism and almost 30% of the men with hyperthyroidism, compared to 25% in men without thyroid problems
    • Overall, 80% of the men studied had erectile dysfunction, compared with 37.5% of the men without thyroid conditions

    According to the American Thyroid Association:

    What are the implications of this study? Men with thyroid dysfunction commonly have erectile dysfunction that is reversible with restoration of the euthyroid state. Although screening for erectile dysfunction is recommended for these men, specific treatment should be postponed for at least 6 months after restoring euthyroidism because it may take this long for erectile dysfunction to spontaneously resolve.

    Another study reported on in the International Journal of Andrology found that suppressed TSH levels consistent with hyperthyroidism are linked to erectile dysfunction.

    The good news? Again, according to the researchers, proper diagnosis, and treatment to return a man to "normal" thyroid function was found to also reverse most sexual symptoms.

    What Should You Do?

    If you are a man with a thyroid condition who has a sexual dysfunction, be aware that your thyroid function may be the cause of your problem, and you should be evaluated to ensure that you are receiving sufficient treatment. And if you are a man with sexual dysfunction or ED, be certain to have a thorough thyroid evaluation to rule out a thyroid problem as the cause of the sexual problems.

      

    You can learn more in the article "Low Sex Drive and Thyroid Disease."

    Sources:

    Carani, Cesare, et. al. "Multicenter Study on the Prevalence of Sexual Symptoms in Male Hypo- and Hyperthyroid Patients," The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 90, No. 12 6472-6479

    Corona G, Wu F, et. al. "Thyroid hormones and male sexual function." Int J Androl. 2012 Oct;35(5):668-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.2012.01266.x. Epub 2012 Jul 27.

    GE Krassas, K Tziomalos, F Papadopoulou, N Pontikides, and P Perros.  “Erectile dysfunction in patients with hyper and hypothyroidism: how common and should we treat? ” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (Volume 93 Issue 5, pages 1815-1819). 

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