Around two per cent of Britons have hypothyroidism – when the thyroid does not produce enough hormones – according to 2019 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) data.
The thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped gland at the front of the windpipe whose job is to produce two hormones – triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) – that help regulate things like heart rate, body temperature and metabolism.
More than five percent of people over age 60 have an underactive thyroid, and women are 5 to 10 times more likely to be affected than men, NICE said.
People can also experience hyperthyroidism, which is when the same gland produces too much thyroid hormone.
A new study from the UK surveyed people with thyroid disorders.
Commissioned by Medichecks, a provider of home health screenings, it found that nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents believe their health condition has negatively affected their sex life.
In particular, they experienced:
- low libido
- erectile dysfunction
- Reduced sexual satisfaction
- Difficulty reaching orgasm
An astonishing 70% of participants – both men and women – said they had experienced low libido, with 44% of male respondents reporting having erectile dysfunction.
More than a quarter (26 percent) said they had reduced sexual satisfaction and almost the same number (21 percent) said they had difficulty reaching orgasm.
Dr. Natasha Fernando, General Practitioner and Head of Clinical Excellence at Medichecks, explained: “Thyroid disorders are notoriously difficult to recognize because many of the symptoms, such as extreme fatigue, weight gain, muscle pain, depression, and slow movement and thinking, can also be linked to so many other conditions.
“The path to securing a diagnosis is not straightforward – and some people can be very reticent about talking about some of their symptoms, especially if it involves their sex lives and mental health. They may simply link a low libido, for example, to feeling tired or stressed at work and just try to fight.
“But if someone’s sex drive has dropped significantly, or they are experiencing erectile dysfunction, they shouldn’t suffer in silence.”
She urged people to always mention their low libido to a GP, “especially if some of the other more recognizable symptoms of thyroid dysfunction mentioned here also sound familiar.”
Most respondents (88 percent) said they had experienced mental health problems as a result of their condition, including low mood (76 percent), inability to think clearly or concentrate (71 percent), lack of motivation (70 percent percent percent) and feeling misunderstood (55 percent).
Just over half (52 percent) said they suffered from insomnia due to their thyroid disorder.
While targeted treatment can help alleviate many of the symptoms of thyroid problems, delays in diagnosis can leave many people struggling for months, even years, with debilitating health issues.
Sure enough, 32 percent of Medichecks surveyed said they waited more than a year between starting their symptoms and receiving a diagnosis.
And 88% of respondents said they felt they had to take matters into their own hands to manage the condition.
The Doctor. Fernando urged anyone suffering from symptoms that could be thyroid-related to have ‘a comprehensive blood test’, which can be “a useful and discreet first step to help find out if your symptoms are thyroid-related or if there is something else.” wrong “.
Symptoms of an overactive or underactive thyroid
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just in front of the windpipe, which produces hormones that affect things like heart rate and body temperature.
An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. When it produces too many hormones, it is known as an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism.
Both conditions cause different symptoms. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid are often similar to other conditions and often develop slowly, so you may not notice them for years.
- being sensitive to cold
- weight gain
- slow movements and thoughts
- muscle pain and weakness
- muscle cramps
- dry and scaly skin
- brittle hair and nails
- loss of libido
- pain, numbness, and tingling sensation in the hand and fingers
- irregular periods or heavy periods
If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor and ask to be tested for an underactive thyroid.
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid:
- nervousness, anxiety and irritability
- mood swings
- difficulty sleeping
- persistent tiredness and weakness
- heat sensitivity
- swelling in the neck from an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
- an irregular and/or abnormally fast heart rate (palpitations)
- twitching or shaking
- weight loss
See a GP if you experience these symptoms.