Solutions for s*xual Dysfunction in Thyroid Patients
s*xual problems are a common thyroid symptom, with low libido and erectile dysfunction frequently listed as symptoms of undiagnosed or improperly treated thyroid conditions. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), about 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men experience s*xual dysfunction. Interestingly, these figures are thought to be low, underestimating the extent of s*xual problems in the U.S.
How many people with s*xual dysfunction may actually have underlying thyroid disease that has not been diagnosed is not a question that has been thoroughly researched. But, it’s certain that some of the people having a problem could in fact resolve their s*xual dysfunction problems simply . having their thyroid function evaluated and properly treated.
Still, many people—women in particular—continue to experience s*xual dysfunction even after doctors consider the thyroid problem “treated.” Let’s explore the types of s*xual dysfunction, the thyroid link, and effective solutions.
It’s estimated that the following physical factors are a cause of s*xual dysfunction in at least a third of the men who have concerns and more than 10 percent of women with s*xual dysfunction issues:
Other hormone imbalances, most commonly s*x hormones like estrogen and testosterone
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Kidney or liver disease
Gynecological disease in women
Prostate disease in men
Medications that decrease s*x drive, such as certain antidepressants
The remainder of people experiencing s*xual dysfunction are thought to have issues that are psychological in origin, with specific causes including:
Concerns about s*xual performance
Body image issues
History of s*xual trauma
Both men and women can experience s*xual dysfunction. Generally, there are four different types:
Lack of desire or interest in s*x (low libido)
An inability to become aroused
An inability to climax or very slow to climax
Pain during intercourse
More specifically, the signs and symptoms of s*xual dysfunction in men include:
An inability to get an erection
Difficulty maintaining an erection, known as erectile dysfunction (ED)
An inability to release or inability to control the timing (premature Release or delayed Release)
And, in women, the signs and symptoms of s*xual dysfunction include:
An inability to relax the vaginal muscles
An inability to have an climax
If you have not been diagnosed with thyroid disease, but are experiencing s*xual dysfunction, a complete thyroid evaluation should be performed as part of your medical workup. The tests include TSH, Free T4, Free T3, and thyroid antibodies.
If you have already been diagnosed with thyroid disease and are experiencing s*xual dysfunction, your first step should be to ensure that your thyroid treatment is not just adequate, but rather, that the treatment is optimized.
Other elements of your medical workup for s*xual dysfunction should typically include:
A complete medical history
A thorough physical
Evaluation of other hormones besides thyroid, including testosterone for both men and women
Review of medications and supplements being taken
A discussion with your practitioner about possible psychological factors, such as stress, relationship problems, fear, and s*xual trauma
Some men and women who have low testosterone levels can benefit from testosterone supplementation. In some cases, men can benefit from drugs—such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra)—which increase blood flow to the man-hood.
Some men can also benefit from vacuum devices and implants that help with erectile dysfunction.
In women who are perimenopausal, or who have had a surgical menopause, hormone treatment involving estrogen and/or progesterone may be helpful, too. For women who have pain due to a narrow v**ina or tight muscles, known as vaginismus, dilators may be an effective part of treatment as well.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Research has shown that s*xual dysfunction in both men and women can also benefit from weight loss. Losing weight is easier said than done, of course, but excess weight can affect self-image and make you feel less sexy and less interested in s*x.
Medically, being overweight can reduce s*x drive. Specifically, losing weight reduces levels of s*x hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which then leaves you with more free circulating estrogen and testosterone to help with your hormonal balance and s*x drive.
Exercise can also be helpful . improving blood flow to all your body parts. Research has found that people who exercise regularly have higher levels of desire, greater s*xual confidence and frequency, and an enhanced ability to be aroused and achieve climax, no matter what their age.
The best type of exercise is aerobic exercise because it can trigger the release of endorphins—chemicals in the brain that create a feeling of well-being. Finally, s*x therapy and or other forms of therapy with trained counselors may also be useful in dealing with the psychological issues involved.
Make sure your thyroid drug treatment is optimized. It may not be enough for your levels to be “normal.” You may find that s*xual dysfunction is resolved when treatment is considered optimal.
Some people do not find their thyroid symptoms—including s*xual dysfunction—resolved when taking a levothyroxine/T4 only drug like Synthroid. In some cases, you may find that your s*xual dysfunction is resolved or improved when your doctor adds in a synthetic form of the T3 hormone, for example Cytomel, or switches you to a natural thyroid drug, like Armour or Nature-throid, that includes natural forms of T4 and T3.
Address Hormonal Imbalances
Other endocrine and hormone imbalances are more common in thyroid patients. Be sure to have your s*x hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) checked.
For men who have thyroid issues, testosterone may be low and supplementation can be an aid in restoring lost libido. Testosterone is available as a pill form, as a transdermal patch, . injection, and sometimes as transdermal pellets implanted under the skin.
Some women can also benefit from testosterone. Doctors frequently will provide testosterone in pill form to women or as testosterone propionate cream. It’s also important to have your adrenal function evaluated, specifically cortisol, DHEA, and any other imbalances.
There are a number of supplements that reportedly may help with s*x drive. Be sure to check with your practitioner for guidance on how to safely use these:
Arginine—An amino acid for both men and women
Asian ginseng (panax)—May help increase s*xual energy
Avena-sativa/oat extract—A popular brand is Vigorex which reportedly helps with s*x drive
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)—A precursor hormone that converts to testosterone in your body and may be useful to both women and men who have borderline low levels of testosterone
Ginkgo biloba—An herb that may improve s*xual function in men
Horny goat weed—Used . Chinese herbalists, it may help improve s*xual functions in both men and women
Kava kava—An herb most known for use in relaxation but may be useful as an aphrodisiac for women
Zinc—Low levels have been associated with low s*x drive in women and men
Royal maca—A South American herbal remedy that may help men and women with libido