Each year nearly 30 million men between the ages of 40 and 65 develop symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Impotence in men is not a normal issue, nor does it appear in the body on its own. Erectile Dysfunction is generally a symptom of a larger biological or mental health issue, and while it is a treatable condition men should not just look for a treatment of this condition, they should also focus on what body system is out of balance that is triggering the sexual dysfunction in the first place. One of the most overlooked causes of erectile dysfunction are thyroid symptoms in men.
In the majority of the reported cases of erectile dysfunction, the symptoms are linked to common issues ranging from age, heart disease, lack of regular exercise, poor diet, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and prescription drug side effect to lifestyle choices, stress, depression, insomnia and other mental factors. One of the most important yet ignored organs in the body that is often tied to all of these health issues in men is the thyroid gland. In this article you will learn what your thyroid gland is, where it is located and why the proper function of this vital organ is so critical to your overall health and well-being. You will also learn how your ED or other bedroom problems may be linked to an over or under active thyroid and what treatment options are available to you.
What is the Thyroid Gland?
Let’s start by discussing the basic issue…what is the thyroid gland? The thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland that sits in the base of your neck lying against and around the larynx and trachea. In men, the thyroid gland is in front of the Adam’s Apple. The thyroid has one of the most critical roles in maintaining your overall health, yet is often overlooked as the culprit in many health problems. The thyroid releases a hormone, called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), in response to signals from the pituitary gland, and this hormone communicates with every other hormone in the body to ensure your hormones and body are working properly. The most important TSHs are are tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
What is Thyroid Disease?
The thyroid is like the lead on a construction project. It needs to tell everyone what to do to get the project done properly, but it gets its orders from the pituitary gland, so it is vitally important to understand thyroid disease and thyroid problem symptoms. Most critically, the thyroid regulates metabolism, normal developmental growth from infant to adulthood, controls energy produced and used by the cells, regulates stress hormones and is responsible form production of sex hormones – testosterone in men and estrogen in women. If the thyroid produces too little TSH, a condition called Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, this can lead to sluggishness, weight gain, memory loss, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction in men.
On the flip side, if the thyroid produces too much TSH, this is called Hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid, and can lead to rapid weight loss, nervousness, confusion, rapid heart rate, inability to regulate body heat, fatigue, shaking, and premature ejaculation.
Why is thyroid disease frequently missed or hard to diagnose in men? Studies show that women are 7 to 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with thyroid disease than men, but still millions of people are walking around with an undiagnosed thyroid condition. A blood test to check for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is the most common method to diagnose thyroid disease. Researchers moved the goal post of “what is a normal TSH range,” which is a major contributor to missed diagnosis of an over or under active thyroid. In 2003, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) revised the “normal” TSH range to 0.3 to 3.042 from 0.5 and 5.0. This modification left millions of people who actually have thyroid disease as now untreated, due to being “normal,” when in fact they may have a less severe case of the thyroid disorder. A proper test battery should include identifying levels of TSH, Free T3 and T4, thyroid antibodies and thyroid releasing hormone (TRH), and not just TSH. Only then can a doctor really identify if the patient has a thyroid disorder.
Common Symptoms of Thyroid Disease
Symptoms of Hyperthyroid Disease (overactive thyroid)
- Sudden weight loss, even when you have not changed your diet
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) — commonly more than 100 beats a minute — irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or pounding of your heart (palpitations)
- Increased appetite
- Nervousness, anxiety and irritability
- Tremor — usually a fine trembling in your hands and fingers
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Changes in bowel patterns, more frequent bowel movements or diarrhea
- An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck
- Fatigue, muscle weakness
- Difficulty sleeping (Insomnia)
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Premature ejaculation
- Erectile dysfunction
- Memory loss
- difficulty swallowing
Symptoms of Hypothyroid Disease (underactive thyroid)
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Unexplained weight gain
- Muscle weakness/fatigue
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness – especially in the neck
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Thinning hair/hair loss
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Delayed ejaculation
Best Study to Link Thyroid Disorder and Erectile Dysfunction
The first groundbreaking study that linked hyper and hypo thyroid disease to sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction in men, was done in 2005 by the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
In this study, 48 men with sexual dysfunction (34 with high thyroid function and 14 with low thyroid function), were tracked for 16 weeks, once at 8 weeks and again at 16 weeks. Test subjects were screened to determine how their thyroid disease resulted in common male sexual dysfunction conditions, particularly – hypoactive sexual desire (HSD), erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation (PE), and delayed ejaculation (DE). The study confirmed that erectile dysfunction was present in over 50% of the test subjects with hypothyroidism, meaning men with an underactive thyroid, yet only 7% had instances of premature ejaculation.
Conversely, male test subjects with an overactive thyroid only had an occurrence of ED 14.7% or nearly identical to the general male population with impotence, but 50% of this group had instances of premature ejaculation. This shows that men with an overactive thyroid may produce an abundance of the sex hormones or sensory hormones when aroused, and thus achieved climax and ejaculation rapidly, or faster than their partner achieved climax.
When the test group identified as having Hypothyroid disease were given l-thyroxine at various doses, and the test group with Hyperthyroid Disease were given 5 mg of Metimazole daily, by the end of the 16 week study the thyroid hormone was normalized in all the test subjects and erectile dysfunction was eliminated. What was most interesting is that when thyroid function was normalized, other symptoms of sexual dysfunction related to thyroid disease were also fully elminated or significantly reduced.
While the findings concur that male sexual dysfunction can be related to a thyroid disorder, I do not concur that prescription medication, which treats symptoms and not the root cause is always the best course of action.
- Iodine deficiency is one of the main components of thyroid disorder, and taking a natural product to boost iodine levels should be used before using a prescription product that may come with unpleasant or dangerous side effects.
- Natural Thyroid Replacement Therapy is a popular natural treatment to regulate thyroid hormone levels.
- Eat a diet high in natural iodine rich foods, and eliminate foods known to interfere with proper thyroid function.
- Add a regular diet program.