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/

Calcium Effects for Thyroid Health

food containing calcium

While most of us are aware that we need calcium for our teeth and bones, many do not understand the important role which calcium plays in our health, outside of our bones. While it’s true that around 99% of our body’s calcium is stored in our bones, there is 1% which resides in our bloodstream.

What Role Does Calcium Play in Our Bodies?

This calcium plays a role in helping all of our muscles, including our hearts, to contract properly. If you have a calcium deficiency in your diet, your body will draw calcium from your bones in order to keep the muscles working.

This is why if your diet lacks enough calcium, you can become at risk of developing osteoporosis or brittle bone disease. Your body will take the calcium from your bones to keep your heart and other muscles working, meaning your bones are then at risk of becoming porous and fragile.

Calcium also has a really important role to play in blood clotting because it activated particular enzymes in the body. Without these enzymes our blood wouldn’t clot properly when we suffer an injury. If you have a calcium deficiency it can have an impact on blood clotting effectiveness.

What About Thyroid Health?

The thyroid plays an important role in the regulation of the levels of calcium in the blood. The thyroid gland releases a hormone called calcitonin, which carries out this balancing role on the levels of calcium in the blood.

If there is an increase of calcium levels, the thyroid releases calcitonin to help lower the levels back down again.

Certain thyroid conditions, such as hypothyroidism, are treated with synthetic hormones, which can restrict the amount of calcium your body can absorb, putting you back at risk of osteoporosis and brittle bones, but it’s not straight forward to counteract this because calcium supplements can actually counteract the hormone treatment and make it ineffective for treating the thyroid condition.

Are Calcium Supplements Bad If You Have Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland is not working effectively and is not producing sufficient levels of hormones. These hormones keep your metabolism in check so one symptom of this condition is weight gain.

If you are taking hormone treatment for hypothyroidism, it’s possible this will impact on the amount of calcium your body is receiving. This is because hypothyroidism means you’re your thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones to allow your body to function as it should.

Taking calcium will not impact on the condition in terms of aggravating it, or helping it, however, you should talk to your doctor first in case of any adverse reactions. The hypothyroid medication which you are taking might make it impossible for your body to absorb the normal amount of calcium so you need to be aware of this.

So How Do I Avoid Calcium Deficiency with Hypothyroidism?

People with hypothyroidism are at a higher risk of osteoporosis – also known as brittle bone disease. This is because the medication used to treat hypothyroidism contains thyroid hormones and these can cause your bones to become brittle. The condition itself can also impact on bones.

You need to speak to your doctor as soon as you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism as they are likely to prescribe you with the hormone treatment to get your metabolism back to normal. This will help you to lose any extra weight you put on due to the condition and should help to regulate your body again.

It may be tempting to take calcium supplements to combat the bone issues caused by the medication but you must only do so with your doctor’s advice, because taking calcium supplements can actually prevent your body absorbing the synthetic hormones, making the hormone medication useless.

Always talk to your doctor but the general advice is to take the calcium supplements at least four hours after you take your hormone treatment. The longer the time gap you can leave between taking the medication and taking the calcium supplements, the better it is for you.

That way the treatment will be effective, bringing your thyroid back into balance and you will also gain from the calcium supplement, to try to ward off any potential brittle bone side effects from the medication, which is what you need.

How Do I Get Calcium into My Body?

If you are concerned that you are not getting enough calcium into your body, and you have checked with your doctor regarding any potential impact on current thyroid treatments and medications you are taking, then there are two ways to make sure your body is getting enough calcium.

The first way is by ensuring you have a calcium-rich diet, with foods such as tofu and yogurt and many other dairy products. This is the simplest way to keep up your calcium levels, but if you are suffering from a really severe deficiency of calcium, it might not be enough.

The second option is by taking calcium supplements but these vary and should be taken under medical advice if you have any kind of thyroid condition. However, if you are suffering from a calcium deficiency and are at risk from brittle bone disease then supplements will be more effective for you than diet alone.

Which Foods Contain Calcium?

The key foods which contain calcium are dairy products including cheese, milk and yogurt so try to incorporate plenty of these into your diet, while watching the fat content.

However, if you are allergic to dairy, then you can try other sources, including green leafy plants such as spinach, kale and broccoli. Almonds can provide a really good source of calcium for your daily diet, as do salmon and sardines. If you can incorporate a calcium-rich element into every meal you should improve your calcium levels.

What About Calcium Supplements?

If you are deficient in calcium you will probably need to take a supplement to top up your levels rather than just use diet as they provide a richer and more reliable source which you can ensure you take regularly, every day.

There are several different types of calcium supplements including calcium acetate, which has a really good absorption rate but can be rather costly. It is important not to choose the cheapest but to look for good quality and good absorption when choosing calcium.

There are also other choices which may be cheaper, including calcium lactate, calcium gluconate and calcium citrate – just ask your doctor or pharmacist to advise you if you are unsure.

It’s important not to go for the cheapest option as the quality will vary, but your doctor or local health food shop, or local pharmacy should certainly be able to point you towards the best calcium supplement to suit your particular requirements.

As we mentioned earlier, be careful taking calcium supplements if you are taking thyroid hormones for a thyroid condition because it can interfere with the effectiveness of the medication. Always talk to your doctor in this case and remember not to take the supplement too close in time to the medication.

You can see that calcium is not just important for bone and teeth health, but performs many other functions in our body including supporting our muscles to contract properly, so a calcium deficiency can cause many problems.

Eat a diet rich in calcium-filled foods and if you do suffer from a thyroid problem, such as hypothyroidism, be aware that it can really impact on your body’s calcium levels and put you at much greater risk of suffering from osteoporosis.

It is entirely possible to take a calcium supplement while taking thyroid medication, to help prevent the onset of brittle bone disease, but it should only be done under doctor’s advice, to avoid conflicting with the hormone medication.

Calcium and thyroid health are intrinsically linked together and it’s about maintaining the body’s balance of hormones and calcium levels in perfect harmony, so that you end up with healthy bones, a healthy weight and a healthy body and mind overall.

Ashwagandha and Thyroid Facts

Ashwagandha is an Aurvedic herb that has been used for centuries in Asia. Although many consider it a stress relieving natural medication, studies have shown that Ashwagandha has many properties that can help alleviate symptoms caused by a dysfunctional thyroid. A recent article on Thyroid Advisor has detailed the many benefits of Ashwagandha.

Perhaps the most useful of these is that many studies have shown Ashwagandha can help produce more T4 hormones. Since T4 is one of the hormones, along with T3 and TSH, that control thyroid function, and thus a body’s metabolism, energy, and many other properties, the ability to raise this with a simple herb is very impressive. Of course, it won’t be a lot or anything near taking artificial thyroid hormones such as Synthroid, but the natural Ashwagandha treatment certainly helps a bit.

However, the increase of T4 hormones is not the only effect Ashwagandha has on the body. This thyroid supplement website has written an article on the benefits and truths regarding Ashwagandha. Within this article, the author writes about how Ashwagandha has also been linked to better mood. Perhaps the most surprising, however, it that it has promising benefits in helping alleviate the symptoms of cancer, and as detailed in some studies, the actual cancer cells themselves. Due to the immune and antioxidant properties in this herb, a study published in 1999 has concluded that Ashwagandha increased the number of white blood cells in the body – the cells that fight disease, cancer, and illness.

With all these great benefits, it is important to make sure you have the right dosage of Ashwagandha in order to maximize the benefits of this great herb. Doctors and scientists suggest about 600 mg to 1,200 mg a day along with a healthy diet with other vitamins and minerals.

I would highly suggest using this herb to help alleviate the symptoms of a slow thyroid. Be sure to check out thyroid support complexes that have Ashwagandha in their supplement facts list.