Hypothyroidism and a Sluggish Sex Drive
Many people assume that sexual concerns like low libido primarily affect men. The first thing that comes to mind may be erectile dysfunction and all of the medications like Viagra and Cialis that were created to help men deal with this prevalent issue. The reality is that roughly half of the women in America also suffer from sexual concerns like low libido.
Often, low libido in women is attributed to psychological problems, but it usually goes much deeper than that. There have been numerous studies involving both men and women that suggest low libido can be caused by an actual physical problem with the thyroid.
Common Causes of Sexual Concerns in Men and Women
It’s common for men to experience sexual concerns like low libido and erectile dysfunction as they grow older. Many male concerns originate from restricted blood vessels in the body. Erections are the result of healthy blood flow to the penis, but because many older men begin experiencing varying types of heart disease, blood flow can be inhibited. Even though some circulation issues may not be dangerous, they can still drastically affect a person’s sex drive. As long as a man is sexually aroused, medications like Viagra can help by stimulating an enzyme that helps relax smooth muscle cells, which allows blood to flow freely.
Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also common causes of a lack of sex drive. Not only do symptoms of mental illness cause a lack of libido, but many medications used to treat these symptoms have side effects that affect sex drive and curb libido, which turns into a losing situation for both men and women.
Diagnosing a Thyroid Problem
Roughly 10 percent of women over 50 have some type of thyroid deficiency, and although not as common, the issue is present in men as well. The thyroid is a gland that is responsible for a myriad of functions, including the release of thyroid hormones into the body. These hormones can affect energy levels, mood and metabolism. For example, when a person is overweight, they may have their thyroid tested to see if it might be affecting their metabolism. New studies have shown that thyroid hormones can also affect a person’s sex drive.
Thyroid problems can be diagnosed through a blood test for those experiencing any of the symptoms associated with a thyroid problem. The tests will show if the thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone, which can lead to infrequent or scant menstrual periods, irritability, nervousness and issues with sleep. Insufficient production of thyroid hormone can lead to heavy menstrual periods, weight gain, inability to tolerate cold and forgetfulness.
Treating Hypothyroidism for Women
Men have an assortment of go-to pills that can help when they’re experiencing issues with sexual function, but there are very few choices for women. Because sexual concerns are most often associated with men, women may face an assortment of roadblocks when it comes to getting their sexual issues recognized. This may be why researchers have put so much focus on helping men who have erectile dysfunction, while at the same time many women have problems finding a doctor who will listen to their sexual concerns.
Two of the common ways that doctors try to treat a thyroid issue is through medications or surgery. It’s important for the person to be diagnosed by a doctor before taking medications like L-thyroxine because the dosage is based on age, weight and medical history. Typically a person doesn’t need to have thyroid surgery unless there’s a major issue with their thyroid. For example, a doctor may find that there are cancerous cells in the thyroid and a portion or all of it may need to be removed.
There are also many natural ways in which a person can treat their hypothyroidism. Reducing caffeine and sugar intake as well as reducing refined carbohydrates can help. Eating foods with higher amounts of proteins like nuts, quinoa and nut butters help normalize the thyroid function. Many people don’t realize it, but the composition of the thyroid tissue is fairly close to the makeup of gluten, so going gluten-free may be extremely beneficial.