Studies show that even slightly reduced thyroid levels, even considered still in the "normal" range can dramatically decrease libido in women as well as causing fatigue, weight gain and depression.
How Does Thyroid Dysfunction Affect Libido
Hypothyroidism reveals itself in a very gradual manner. Low thyroid symptoms are very subtle and are often similar to the ones of aging. Low thyroid levels affect different parts of the body in different ways.
Patients more often reporting loss of libido are those with hypothyroidism. Those with hyperthyroidism can also experience this symptom, but they can also experience episodes of increased sex drive, due to the sped up metabolism hyperthyroidism can cause. With hypothyroidism, the metabolism is slowed down, which means the reproductive organs are slowed down as well. The adrenal glands that produce hormones that convert into the sex hormones are also slowed down. Both men and women can see decreased testosterone and estrogen levels.
The good news is that when thyroid hormone imbalances are corrected, the result is a normalizing of all bodily functions, including the sex drive. According to patient advocate and author Mary Shomon, these are some useful tips to help you revive your libido, when suffering from thyroid dysfunction:
- Make sure your thyroid drug treatment is optimal;
- Check your hormones - get a full profile;
- Have a thorough physical to rule out other non-thyroid health conditions;
- Get testosterone supplementation, if necessary;
- For women, supplement estrogen/progesterone, if needed;
- With your doctor's approval, consider supplements;
- Lose weight;
- Exercise; and/or
- Consider therapy.
An Effective Treatment For Your Thyroid Leads To A Healthy Libido
Unfortunately, most physicians, including endocrinologists, lack the ability or confidence to clinically evaluate a patient's thyroid status and lack understanding of the limitations of standard thyroid function tests, which has resulted in the majority of hypothyroid patients receiving inadequate doses of thyroid replacement.
Hypothyroidism is generally treated with synthetic T4 (Levothyroxine), products such as Synthroid and Levoxyl being the most widely accepted forms of thyroid replacement. This is based on a widely held assumption that the body will convert what it needs to the biologically active form T3. However, many people cannot efficiently convert T4 to T3. This is a problem because T3 is the more active form of thyroid hormone. Even if your T4 and TSH levels are optimal, if your T3 levels are imbalanced, you may still experience symptoms.
In order to properly assess your health comprehensive testing will be needed, including Free T4, Free T3, reverse T3, sex hormone binding globulin (SHGB), leptin, computerized measurement of tissue thyroid levels, and basal metabolic rate. Treatment options should include customized bioidentical thyroid hormone combinations of T4/T3, as well as time released T3, important nutritional supplements that can help regulate thyroid balance and support a healthy metabolism and libido.