Relationship Between Hypothyroidism and Joint Pain

Hypothyroidism and joint pain may go hand in hand. It means that if you are suffering from joint pain because of your rheumatoid arthritis, then there is a chance that you can also be suffering from hypothyroidism.

Experiencing joint pain is excruciating. The deformity in your hands and feet looks unappealing. The everyday activities that should be easy for other people, like brushing your teeth, exercising, driving, cooking, and the like feel like challenges for you.

You might be wondering how hypothyroidism and joint pain can be related. After all, the joints are located in the different parts of your body, right? So how does thyroid affect your joints and cause you excruciating pain?

To understand the connection, you should know the purpose of the thyroid glands first.

Function of the Thyroid Glands

The thyroid glands are at the front side of the neck. They are two lobes lying along the trachea. The isthmus, the thyroid’s band of tissue, is the one that binds these two lobes together.

The main function of these glands is to convert iodine (that comes from the food we eat) to thyroid hormones. The thyroid cells absorb iodine and mix it with tyrosine, a kind of amino acid. This combination would create the thyroid hormones called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

These thyroid hormones travel along the bloodstream to reach the different parts of the body and to take charge of your body’s metabolism.

Now that you know that your thyroid hormones can reach the different parts of your body, now you should know what hypothyroidism is.

What is Hypothyroidism?

The prefix hypo means below. The suffix –ism, when used as a medical term, refers to a condition. Combining them to form the word hypothyroidism implies that it is a medical condition that pertains to the underproduction of hormones from the thyroid gland, which may cause slow metabolism.

Research has shown that it may cause serious complications like a heart disease if left untreated. 

Causes of Hypothyroidism

There are three factors that can cause hypothyroidism.

First, it may be due to the inflammation of the thyroid gland that may have started in the past or continuing at present. This inflammation can cause death to a large number of thyroid cells which are crucial for the production of the thyroid hormones.

Second, it may also be due to autoimmune thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease. It is the common cause of hypothyroidism in America.

Autoimmune disease refers to a certain condition in which the body’s immune system is attacking the body itself. It senses a foreign invader that is not there.

Third, certain treatments that demand the removal of the thyroid gland or kill lots of thyroid cell may cause hypothyroidism. These treatments include the surgery to remove the thyroid cancer or the application of the radioactive iodine therapy to get rid of benign tumors.

Lastly, it may due to uncommon problems or disorders. One example is if the problem lies at the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is the one that is taking charge of the regulation of the thyroid gland.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Symptoms may vary from one person to another. The intensity of each symptom depends on how severe the thyroid deficiency is and how long the body has been exposed to this deficiency.

You may suffer from one or more of these symptoms and may not experience the others. In some cases, people do not feel any symptom at all. 

  • Depression
  • Dry Skin
  • Irritability
  • Memory Loss
  • Hair Loss
  • Irregular Menstruation
  • Weakness
  • Constipation Low Libido
  • Difficulty to Adapt in Cold Temperatures
  • Dry Hair
  • Difficulty in Losing Weight

These symptoms are less common:

  • Muscle Cramps or Aches
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Gain
  • Joint Pain
  • Swelling of the Limbs

Direct Connection of Joint Pain and Hypothyroidism

You might be wondering how hypothyroidism and joint pain can go hand in hand. This symptom due to the underactive thyroid gland, which may also include the muscle pain, is called hypothyroid myopathy.

Sometimes this joint pain is due to rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that if hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis are present in one person at the same time, most commonly, this person is suffering from an autoimmune condition (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, grave’s disease, and the like).  In cases like these, people can feel the pain mostly in their limbs. 

Honestly, there is no clear link between hypothyroidism and rheumatoid arthritis. However, according to the National institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, people with rheumatoid arthritis are more prone to Hashimoto’s disease. As you may recall, Hashimoto’s disease is a common cause of hypothyroidism in America.

Therefore, people with rheumatoid arthritis are the ones who are prone to thyroid problems. Those who are suffering from hypothyroidism may not experience rheumatoid arthritis, but those who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may have already been suffering from it or at risk to it.

For this reason, you should take hypothyroidism and joint pain seriously. Ask for advise from your doctor and get your condition treated immediately.

Biotin and Thyroid Hair Loss

A butterfly-shaped gland, the thyroid is located just above the collarbone. It constitutes one of the endocrine glands which generates hormones responsible for controlling metabolism. Thyroid disorders can either rev up or slow down one’s metabolism since they disrupt production of hormones in the thyroid.

There is a wide range of symptoms that can be experienced when thyroid hormone levels are either too high or too low and one common symptom is hair loss.

There are several thyroid disorders that include;

  • Goiter: this is when the thyroid gland enlarges.
  • Thyroid nodules: presence of lumps in the thyroid gland
  • Hyperthyroidism: when the thyroid gland generates more hormones that those required by the body
  • Hypothyroidism: when the thyroid gland does not generate enough thyroid hormones
  • Thyroiditis: swelling of the glands

In order to diagnose thyroid disease, a medical practitioner will first look at your medical history and then take a physical exam that includes thyroid tests. In some cases, a biopsy is used. Treatment of thyroid disorders mainly depends on the particular disorder and may either be through thyroid surgery, radioiodine therapy or medication.

Hair Loss due to Thyroid Disorders

Often, abnormal hormones are blamed for the loss of scalp hair but in reality they are the least cause for hair loss. There are different causes of hair loss and sometimes, its natural as one grows older to lose hair.

Prolonged and severe hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism can lead to hair loss on the entire scalp and not only discrete areas. Successful treatment of the disorder leads to recovery of hair although it may be incomplete. Hair recovery takes several months. Short-lived thyroid problems and mild hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism doesn’t lead to much hair loss.

There are thyroid disorders that come abruptly and are conspicuous and therefore can be diagnosed early while other conditions can be present for months or years before they are diagnosed. One experiences hair loss several months after they get thyroid disease since human beings have a long hair cycle. In some cases hair loss may follow treatment of the thyroid disorder and subsequent medication and one can erroneously blame the medication and withdraw treatment and this in turn will worsen hair loss.

Biotin

Biotin plays a vital role in preventing hair loss. A vitamin, it encourages hair growth. Deficiency of biotin leads to breakage of hair that results to hair loss.

Biotin and hair growth are directly related and therefore it is important that one incorporates biotin in their regular diet. Examples of foods that contain biotin include liver, egg yolk, brewer’s yeast, soybeans, oats, green peas, sunflower seeds, brown rice, bulgur, walnuts, cauliflower, avocado, legumes, mushrooms and fish.

However, biotin supplements are also recommended since it would take consumption of thousands of calories daily to reach the recommended level. Adding five to eight grams to your food twice everyday can go a long way in preventing hair loss.

Biotin is also referred to as Vitamin B7. Part of the Vitamin B complex, it is water-soluble.  It is also worth noting that individuals with blood type A can’t absorb B vitamins. Persons with acid reflux and heartburn tend to absorb biotin slowly and as a result, hair loss may occur despite ingesting biotin.

It is common to find biotin in skin and hair beauty products. However, biotin is more beneficial when ingested than when applied to the skin.

There are several risk factors that can lead to biotin deficiency in the body and they include: excessive consumption of alcohol, pregnancy, smoking, prolonged use of antibiotic, consumption of copious amount of raw white eggs and serious digestive disorders like celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. Symptoms of biotin deficiency in the body can include hair loss, dry skin, muscle aches, digestive issues, cramps and mood changes.

Advantages of Biotin

  • It is affordable
  • Strengthens hair, nails and the skin
  • Improves regulation of blood sugar
  • Assists in weight loss
  • Assists in processing of energy and transporting carbon dioxide out of the cells

Disadvantages of Biotin

  • It can cause acne and skin breakouts
  • May lead to allergic reactions when it interacts with some drugs
  • Increases the risk of miscarrying in pregnant women
  • High dosage may lead to stomach cramps and diarrhoea
  • On ingestion, it may cause nausea

Libido and Thyroid Relationship

Does it seem like you have lost your libido for good?

Is your sex drive at an all-time low?

While you might attribute this to your tiredness after work or your advanced age, something else might be causing your sullen sex life – and that could be an undiagnosed thyroid disorder.

What is Libido?

Libido is all about your sex drive and your appetite for this amorous affair.

In psychiatry, it is tagged as a ‘component of the life instinct.’

There is no normal level for ‘libido,’ as it differs according to gender and age, among many other aspects.

However, a lot of people experience a low libido or sex drive. Physical causes include:

  • Medical disorders, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, neurological conditions, arthritis, and thyroid disorders, the latter of which is the focus of this article.
  • Intake of medications, such as anti-depressants and anti-seizure drugs
  • Surgery affecting the breasts and/or the pelvic area
  • Excessive smoking or alcohol intake
  • Sexual problems, i.e. pain during/after sex or inability to orgasm
  • Fatigue

Additionally, hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause in women (and andropause in men) affect sex drives.

Other conditions that can affect sex drive include psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, stress, dampened self-esteem, poor body image, history of negative sexual experiences, and past sexual/physical abuse.

Relationship issues such as infidelity, poor communication, lack of connection, and unresolved issues can play a role in low libido as well.

If your low sex drive is not caused by the aforementioned factors, then have yourself tested for the possibility of a thyroid disorder. Your doctor will take your medical history and conduct a physical examination, specifically of the neck area.

He/She will ask you to undertake blood tests that will check your TSH, T4, T3, Thyroid Antibody, and Thyroglobulin levels.

How the Thyroid Gland Affects Libido

The thyroid gland, located below the voice box, is known to regulate many body functions such as growth and metabolism.

Throughout years of study, it was also discovered that the thyroid gland plays an important role in reproductive health. Changes in thyroid function have been linked with alterations in sexual activity, even fertility.

This happens because this disorder affects the production of the following hormones:

  • Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), a protein made in the liver. It binds to the hormones estrogen, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone.
  • Testosterone, the male sex hormone responsible for sperm production and the development of sex characteristics. In women, this hormone affects sexual activity, desire, pleasure, and over-all well-being.
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH), a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. In men, it stimulates the release of testosterone, which in turn affects the production of sperm. As for women, this hormone affects ovulation and sex drive.
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), another hormone that controls sperm production in men. In women, it controls the menstrual cycle and egg production of ovaries.

Following these changes, loss of libido is an expected outcome. It is one of the distressing symptoms of both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, where increases and decreases in thyroid hormones occur respectively.

Additionally, hypothyroidism’s other symptoms of depression, fatigue, and mood disorder can also lead to the reduced sexual drive of the afflicted persons. In fact, as much as 60% of depressed individuals report a low sexual desire.

Libido and Thyroid Relationship in Men

Men are known to have great libido when they are young. However, there are some who gradually develop a distaste for sex and lose this libido as they become older. For a handful of males, action in the bedroom can seem all too mechanical – they do not look forward to it the way they did in the earlier years.

While the loss of libido is oftentimes attributed to erectile dysfunction, performance anxiety, and stress, it can be blamed on a variety of medical conditions such as thyroid disorder.

In hypothyroid men, the SHBG, Testosterone, LH, and FSH levels are decreased, while in hyperthyroidism, the hormones mentioned are increased. Thyroid Advisor has articles on both these topics which may help in your research.

Because of these effects, problems in sex drive, as well as fertility, are encountered by men suffering from thyroid dysfunctions.

In fact, a multicenter study by Carani et al showed that of its 34 hyperthyroid male subjects, 17.6% of them reported hypoactive sexual desire, or a reduced sexual drive. The highest incidence for this group is premature ejaculation at 50%. As for its hyperthyroid patients, as much as 64.3% reported loss of libido, while 7.1% reported premature ejaculation.

Adding credence to this finding is a study by Maggi et al. Here it was established that hypothyroidism primarily affects sexual desire, as well as the ejaculation process. As for hyperthyroidism, effects include premature ejaculation and a risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction.

Although this is the case, there is no need to worry as Carani et al’s study concluded that although men with thyroid disorders experience sexual dysfunctions, these symptoms can be reversed by normalizing thyroid hormone levels through treatment.

Libido and Thyroid Relationship in Women

Just like men, women who develop thyroid disorders suffer from loss of libido. According to experts, many females who report this problem have an undiagnosed thyroid problem.

In women with thyroid disorders, hormones that determine the functioning of female sexual organs are affected.

Compared to men, there is a small volume of researches which study the relationship of thyroid disorders and libido. Such was the driving force behind the study of Oppo et al. In this paper, the authors assessed the participants through the Female Sexual Function Index.

This covered the respondents’ hypoactive sexual desire, sexual arousal disorders, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain during intercourse. Not surprisingly, hypothyroid and hyperthyroid women reported low scores in all the domains.

As in the case of men, the loss of libido in women with thyroid disorders usually dissipates following treatment. In the same study, hypothyroidism treatment led to the normalization of sexual desire and satisfaction, as well as a decrease in sexual pain.

As for hyperthyroid women, sexual desire and other facets normalized, except orgasm, which remained impaired even after treatment.

Improving Libido by Treating Thyroid Disorders

If you have a thyroid disorder that causes your low libido, among many other symptoms, then you should have it managed immediately. As it has been mentioned, sexual drives are usually normalized after treatment.

If you are suffering from hypothyroidism, your physician will prescribe you with the hormone Levothyroxine, which is available in the market as Synthroid or Levothroid. This works by increasing thyroid hormone levels in the body, reversing symptoms of hypothyroidism such as a low sex drive. Do note that Levothyroxine treatment is usually done for a lifetime.

However, you need to visit your physician routinely so that he/she can make the necessary adjustments on your dosage. If your dose is on the excess, you can experience insomnia, shakiness, palpitations, and an increased appetite. Should this occur, check with your doctor right away.

As for a low sex drive caused by hyperthyroidism, treatments vary according to the person’s age, condition, cause of hyperthyroidism, and preference. Discuss with your physician any of the following options to determine the best choice for your current status:

  • Anti-Thyroid Medications. Methimazole and Propylthiouracil work by controlling the excessive production of thyroid hormones. Symptoms such as low libido can be resolved after six weeks of treatment. However, any of these medications is still needed until a year or so in order to properly normalize thyroid hormone levels. Side effects of these medications include joint pain, fever, rashes, susceptibility to infection, and possible liver damage.
  • Radioactive Iodine. Acts by shrinking the thyroid gland, RAI results to the reversal of symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism. Since it renders the gland underactive, thyroxine intake is recommended following radioactive iodine treatment.
  • If you are unable to tolerate any of the aforementioned treatment regimens, you can undergo thyroidectomy, wherein most of the gland is removed. To normalize thyroid hormone levels, patients who undergo thyroidectomy will require lifelong Levothyroxine treatment.

How to Improve Libido Naturally

Yes, thyroid treatment can reverse the awful symptom of low libido. However, if your sex drive is at a standstill while you complete your doctor’s prescribed thyroid medications, you can opt for these methods that have been known to improve libido naturally:

  • Libido-Boosting Food

Food will not only fill you up, it can also enhance your sex drive! Here are some fares that can help you achieve better performance in bed (or wherever.)

  • Rich in Vitamin C, these greenie improves circulation to the organs, which in turn enhances sexual desire in the eater.
  • You can add this in your tea or favorite dish to enjoy an increase in sexual activity.
  • Iceberg Lettuce. Not only can it help you lose weight, this vegetable can also flood your circulation with libido-boosting sex hormones.
  • Black Raspberries. Rich in Phytochemicals, these berries can cause a spike in your libido and sexual endurance. Take at least 10 pieces before you do the deed for a more fulfilling result.
  • Another fruit that can boost your sex drive is the watermelon, which contains 8% of nutrients that enhance sexual health. It boasts of citrulline, a phytonutrient that works in the same way as Viagra.

 

  • Herbal Supplements

Apart from food that can boost your sex drive, there are herbal aphrodisiacs, some used by our forefathers hundreds of years ago, that have been proven effective in improving libido in both men and women.

  • Ginseng, or the man-root that can improve your libido in as short as a month. You can add the root into your favorite dish, or take any of the Ginseng teas available in the market for a markedly pleasurable time.
  • Mondia whitei, which is used to enhance sex drive and management a low sperm count. It also causes sexual improvement, as seen in a study of inexperienced male rats.
  • Tribulus terrestris, which increases the production of androgens, testosterone, dihydrotesterone, and LH, all of which have led to better sexual behaviors.
  • Lepidium myenii, otherwise known as Maca, has been known to improve sexual desire after 2 months of intake.

 

  • Exercise

Exercise comes with a variety of benefits ranging from weight loss and decreased risks of succumbing from heart disease. Consequently, regular exercise has been known to improve libido. In women, a 20-minute exercise prior to watching erotic films has led improved to genital arousal, according to a study by Lorenz and Meston. While it has been conducted in patients taking anti-depressant medications, their complaint of ‘low libido’ is similar to those with thyroid dysfunctions.

Consequently, too much exercise can lead to further sexual woes than improvements. Frequent, high-intensity exercise has been known to decrease libido, fertility, and sperm production in men, according to a study by Ellakim and Nemet. As such, keep your workouts at the recommended levels for stellar physical and sexual health.

Low libido usually comes with thyroid disorders, but the good news is it does not last forever.

Once you get treated for your condition, you can get rid of the nasty symptoms – and expect a better sex life right thereafter!

References:

Ambler, D. R., Bieber, E. J., & Diamond, M. P. (2012). Sexual Function in Elderly Women: A Review of Current Literature. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5(1), 16–27.

Eliakim, A., & Nemet, D. (2006). Exercise and the male reproductive system. [Abstract]. Harefuah, 145(9), 677-681. Retrieved October 2, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17078431.

Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). (2015, October 28). Retrieved October 2, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperthyroidism/basics/treatment/con-20020986?_ga=2.191737962.1512475326.1506917408-1190757162.1502547580

Hypothyroidism. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2017, from http://sim.stanford.edu/resources/smg_patient_info/HYPOTHYOIDISM09-09.pdf

Hypothyroidism (Underactive). (2017, August 4). Retrieved October 2, 2017, from http://www.mayo.edu/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20155362

Kotta, S., Ansari, S. H., & Ali, J. (2013). Exploring scientifically proven herbal aphrodisiacs. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 7(13), 1–10. http://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.112832

Krajewska-Kulak, E., & Sengupta, P. (2013). Thyroid Function in Male Infertility. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 4, 174. http://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2013.00174

Lorenz, T., & Meston, C. (2012). Acute exercise improves physical sexual arousal in women taking antidepressants. [Abstract]. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 43(3), 352-361. Retrieved October 2, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22403029.

Low Sex Drive in Women. (2015, August 28). Retrieved October 2, 2017, from http://www.mayo.edu/diseases-conditions/low-sex-drive-in-women/basics/causes/con-20033229

Maggi, M., Buvat, J., Corona, G., Guay, A., & Torres, L. O. (2013). Hormonal causes of male sexual dysfunctions and their management (hyperprolactinemia, thyroid disorders, GH disorders, and DHEA). [Abstract]. Journal of Sexual Medicine,10(3), 661-677. Retrieved October 2, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22524444.

Oppo, A., Francheschi, E., Atzeni, F., Taberlet, A., & Marriotti, S. (2011). Effects of hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and thyroid autoimmunity on female sexual function. [Abstract]. Journal of Endocrinological Investination, 34(6), 449-453. Retrieved October 2, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21532331.

Seliger, S. (2007). Loss of Libido in Men. Retrieved October 2, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/loss-of-libido-in-men#5

Thyroid Function Tests. (2017). Retrieved October 2, 2017, from https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-function-tests/