Men: Is Your Thyroid Causing Sexual Problems?

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It's common knowledge that endocrine disorders, like thyroid disease, can have an effect on men's sexual function, desire, performance, and even reproduction. But, the actual connection between thyroid disease and men's sexual functions—and thyroid disease as a cause of sexual problems in men—is not as widely understood or known.

Sexual Function and Thyroid Disease

One study released by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) reported on the demonstrable connection between specific sexual problems in men and thyroid conditions, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, in those men.

The study looked at men with both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The men were evaluated for a variety of common sexual problems, including:

  • Low sex drive (also known as hypoactive sexual desire or low libido)
  • Erectile dysfunction (an inability to obtain or maintain an erection)
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Delayed ejaculation

As part of the JCEM study, the men were examined twice—once while symptomatic and a second time approximately 8 to 16 weeks after their thyroid levels had returned to normal reference ranges.

Almost two-thirds of the hypothyroid men were complaining about some degree of erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation. And hyperthyroidism appeared to be linked to premature ejaculation in half of the men, while low sex drive and erectile dysfunction were both complaints by subsets of the men. 

According to the researchers, proper diagnosis and treatment to return a man to "normal" thyroid function, known as euthyroidism, was found to reverse most sexual symptoms in men.

Another study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism as well, also looked at the effects of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism on men's sexual function and found that:

  • 79 percent of men with thyroid dysfunction showed some level of erectile dysfunction (52 percent of them were hypothyroid and 27 percent hyperthyroid, compared to 34 percent in men without thyroid problems)
  • Severe erectile dysfunction was found in almost 38 percent of the men with hypothyroidism and almost 30 percent of the men with hyperthyroidism (compared to 25 percent in men without thyroid problems)
  • Overall, 80 percent of the men studied had erectile dysfunction (compared with 37.5 percent of the men without thyroid conditions)

What Are the Implications?

Men with thyroid dysfunction commonly have erectile dysfunction that is reversible with restoration of the euthyroid state. Although screening for erectile dysfunction is recommended for these men, specific treatment should be postponed for at least six months after restoring euthyroidism since it may take this long for erectile dysfunction to spontaneously resolve.

Another study in the International Journal of Andrology found that suppressed TSH levels consistent with hyperthyroidism are also linked to erectile dysfunction. But, again, according to the researchers, proper diagnosis and treatment reversed most sexually-related symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

If you are a man with a thyroid condition who also has a sexual dysfunction, be aware that your thyroid function may be the cause of your problem. Make sure to get evaluated to ensure you are receiving sufficient treatment. And if you are a man with sexual or erectile dysfunction, be certain to have a thorough thyroid evaluation to rule out a thyroid problem as the root of the issue.  

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Article Sources
  • Carani, Cesare, et. al. "Multicenter Study on the Prevalence of Sexual Symptoms in Male Hypo- and Hyperthyroid Patients," The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 90, No. 12 6472-6479
  • Corona G, Wu F, et. al. "Thyroid Hormones and Male Sexual Function." Int J Androl. 2012 Oct;35(5):668-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.2012.01266.x. Epub 2012 Jul 27.

  • GE Krassas, K Tziomalos, F Papadopoulou, N Pontikides, and P Perros.  “Erectile dysfunction in patients with hyper and hypothyroidism: how common and should we treat? ” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (Volume 93 Issue 5, pages 1815-1819).