Disruption of the thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland, can lead to widespread dysfunction and significantly impede an individual’s libido. Understanding the powerful influence of the thyroid and effectively testing for and treating thyroid dysfunction may be able to restore the libido.
Libido and Your Thyroid
When the body is functioning properly, the libido triggers positive physical and emotional sensations that provide a greater sense of well-being. Conversely, if the body is not working correctly, libido and sex drive may be weak or nonexistent. Such situations may indicate an underlying problem such as thyroid dysfunction or thyroid disease.
The thyroid is a highly influential gland located in the neck. When working properly, the thyroid regulates numerous bodily functions through the production of hormones. Some of the most important thyroid-related hormones are thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), T4, T3, and Reverse T3. Maintaining the proper balance of these and other thyroid hormones is essential to maintaining health factors such as metabolism, mood, energy level, weight regulation, neurological function, and of course, libido.
The Impact of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a common thyroid condition that slows thyroid function thereby reducing the prevalence of important hormones. As thyroid activity declines the entire body begins to slow down. Additionally, poor thyroid function, especially if it remains undiagnosed and untreated, may contribute to the development of serious health conditions including insulin resistance and diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, autoimmune disease, and sexual dysfunction.
Recognizing a thyroid issue can be difficult because symptoms are often vague, may appear subtle, and can easily be misappropriated to other conditions. Symptoms present themselves at different levels of severity and frequency depending on individual patient factors. Some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Weight gain
- Muscle and joint pain or weakness
- Difficulty thinking clearly or “brain fog”
- Reduced sleep quality
- Increased PMS symptoms
- Low libido
Is Poor Thyroid Activity to Blame for Your Low Libido?
Thyroid dysfunction is a powerful contributor to libidinal difficulties and stalled sex drive. Studies have found that even minor reductions in thyroid hormone prevalence can significantly inhibit libido in women. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that hypothyroid patients often report a significant drop in libido. Other common complaints include difficulty becoming aroused, low sex drive, pain, and physical dysfunction. Fatigue associated with poor thyroid function can also significantly impede libido. Without adequate energy, the body is unlikely to fire up the libido or be driven to engage in sexual activities.
In addition to slowing thyroid activity, hypothyroidism impedes the function of other important hormone-producing systems. The testes and ovaries are the primary producers of sex hormones in men and women respectively. The adrenal glands also produce hormones involved in libidinal activity but to a lesser degree. When the thyroid is not functioning its best, testicular, ovarian, and adrenal hormone production is reduced significantly. The lower prevalence of estrogen, testosterone, and other hormones caused by this disruption has a powerfully negative effect on libido.
Identifying the Problem
Many individuals who report low libido and sexual dysfunction often have difficulty finding the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, many doctors discount the possibility of thyroid dysfunction. This makes it exceptionally difficult for thyroid patients to get the care needed to restore their libido.
One of the challenges of recognizing an underlying thyroid issue is that current testing standards are not effective at identifying thyroid dysfunction. Hypothyroidism is a common condition but many cases, upwards of 80%, go undiagnosed because standard blood tests miss the majority of hypothyroid cases. If hypothyroidism remains unidentified for an extended period, it is highly likely that a patient will experience widespread dysfunction and potentially libidinal decline.
Even if a patient exhibits the most prominent identifying traits of thyroid dysfunction, they may not be diagnosed due to improper testing practices. Most doctors rely solely on TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels to assess thyroid function. However, this metric only indicates how well the pituitary and the thyroid are communicating and not the actual function of the thyroid or the number of thyroid hormones present in the body. To more accurately assess thyroid function, at minimum, testing should include Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHGB), and thyroid antibodies.
Treating the Thyroid and Restoring Libido
Treating the thyroid and restoring libido has complications similar to that of testing and diagnosis. Typically, hypothyroidism is treated using synthetic thyroid hormone replacement medications such as Synthroid, Levoxyl, or Levothyroxine. The idea behind this treatment is that by providing the body with enough T4, or inactive thyroid hormone, it will be converted into the active form T3. However, conversion issues are one of the leading factors of thyroid dysfunction and hypothyroidism. Because of this, many patients do not benefit from synthetic or T4-only treatments.
The majority of thyroid patients respond better to treatments that include T3 and utilize natural ingredients. Ideally, thyroid replacement therapy is employed using bioidentical hormones that can be specified and compounded to suit individual patient needs. Using this approach allows for greater optimization of thyroid hormone levels. Approaching treatment of hypothyroidism in this manner may facilitate greater wellness and revitalization of the libido.
Getting Your Groove Back
Sexual dysfunction and reduced libido are common issues in America. Thyroid disease such as hypothyroidism has a broad impact on bodily function and can dramatically impede libido. Unfortunately, many live with undiagnosed and undertreated thyroid issues due to inadequate medical standards for testing and treatment. By pursuing more accurate testing that assesses multiple factors of thyroid function and getting better treatment in the form of bioidentical hormone therapy you may be able to resolve sexual dysfunction and restore your libido.
To learn even more about thyroid function and proper thyroid support, read our Thyroid 101 e-book!
At Holtorf Medical Group our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve. We’ll also create a treatment plan that is personalized to your specific condition. If you are currently experiencing low libido or suspect thyroid disease, contact us to see how we can help you!