It shouldn’t be embarrassing to talk about, but it is to many people;
the loss of your libido (sex drive) when you have hypothyroidism.
It’s much more common that you think and, if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve experienced it. Chances are, you still are experiencing it and it might be causing you some stress.
The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that are needed for every cell and function in our body. They’re needed for regulating metabolism, heart rate, temperature (hands up, who’s cold a lot of the time?) and blood pressure. They even affect our immune system and.. here we go.. our sex drive.
I said it.
Well, I’ll start with what I’ve learnt about the active thyroid hormone T3. I specify it as being the active hormone since T4, the storage thyroid hormone, must be converted in to T3, but many of us struggle with this. And with hypothyroidism, the metabolism is slowed down, which means the reproductive organs slow down as well.
Anyway, T3 just so happens to be vital in the functioning of both the ovaries and testes, whereby too little available T3 can cause your sex drive to go out of business and diminish. Remember how I said thyroid hormones are needed for every function and every cell? Yep, even sexual functions and arousal.
And we also know that low thyroid hormones can also cause us to feel low in mood, irritable, overly-emotional, fatigued beyond words and achey. Would you always want to have sex when you feel so rubbish?
If you have an underactive thyroid, or even if you don’t, and you have a lack of interest in sex, experience erectile dysfunction etc. or related behaviours, it’s crucial that you have a full thyroid panel tested, to include TSH, Free T4 and that all important Free T3. It would also be worth looking in to your sex hormone levels, namely oestrogren, progesterone and testosterone, since abnormal levels in these can also cause a lack of interest in sexual behaviour, but also irregular periods, PMS and tension and irritability with your partner. Perhaps it even annoys you when they suggest sex. If your doctor is a conventional doctor, meaning on the NHS in the UK for example, you may find that their ability to order these tests and interpret them is limited, so seeking out a functional practitioner, integrative medicine practitioner or a naturopath, who are usually more educated on the body’s delicate hormonal balance, will likely be of more help to you. Hormonal balance is an issue you may well need to consult an expert on. In my own experience, my GP was pretty useless but a naturopath knew exactly what to do after ten minutes of talking with her about my irregular periods and severe PMT.
The good news is, that when low thyroid hormone levels are corrected, as well as sex hormone levels if applicable, the result is often a return to all bodily functions and processes, including your libido.
I understand that it can be difficult when you’re in a relationship with someone who wants to have that level of intimacy with you, but honestly, you’re just too tired to even think about it and undressing even seems like too much effort, it can strain the relationship. I can understand the stress of someone who wants to show their partner how much they mean to them but their partner just isn’t interested. I understand the concern this causes and worries it generates. It’s only natural.
But talk. Show them this article and the ones I’ve posted below, if that helps. Explain that it’s no ones fault, but, if anything, you’ve got to work together to correct this. Be patient.
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given, but more reading and references can also be found at:
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I run a Facebook group, called Thyroid Family: Hypothyroidism Advice & Support Group. This group is for underactive thyroid/hypothyroidism patients only, and not medical professionals or anyone else. If you have any questions on living with hypothyroidism, or want some support, help or advice, please join us.
I also run a group for the spouses, partners and other halves of hypothyroid patients, called Hypothyroid Patients Other Halves – Support & Advice Group. This is for the other halves only and not patients.