6 out of 10 men have low libido due to underactive thyroid (and a tendency to gain weight)

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Image: Supplied

Do you know the symptoms of hypothyroidism in men? Here is more info. 

If you often feel tired, gain weight easily and have low libido it could be an indication of an underactive thyroid – hypothyroidism. The symptoms are very common, therefore it’s important that you verify that this is indeed the cause by doing medical tests and not try to diagnose or treat yourself. Here is more info about hypothyroidism and how it can affect men’s health, especially sexually.

Other symptoms of hypothyroidism in men:

Sexual dysfunction Some studies report that about 60% of men with hypothyroidism have low libido (sexual desire), erectile dysfunction or delayed ejaculation. Hypothyroidism has also been shown to affect semen quality and is associated with lower sperm count, for, and movement. These factors could potentially lower fertility. While these symptoms may be alarming, they are often reversible with treatment.

Low testosterone Testosterone is a sex hormone with many important roles in men’s health, including bone and muscle growth, sex drive and normal reproduction. Hypothyroidism can lower the levels of free testosterone in the blood. Additionally, hypothyroidism has been associated with lower levels of sex hormone-binding globulin, which is a protein that carries testosterone throughout the body. Both of these changes can contribute to symptoms of low testosterone in men. Treating hypothyroidism can improve testosterone levels, so men with low testosterone may want to have their thyroid levels checked.

How common is hypothyroidism in men?

Hypothyroidism can affect up to 5% of people, although many more may have it without realising it. Studies show that between 3% to 16% of men can get hypothyroidism, and the risk goes up as you get older.  

Women are 5 to 10 times more likely to have hypothyroidism than men. This is because the main cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease, and these are more common in women.

Common symptoms could include:

  • Weight gain
  • Tired and run down
  • Constipated              
  • Hair loss
  • Brain fog/slow movements and thoughts
  • Feeling cold
  • Dry skin
  • Swelling in the neck
  • Low mood/depression
  • Muscle aches/cramps/weakness
  • Dry skin and brittle nails and hair
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands.


The thyroid is shaped like a bow tie and is similarly located. Its function is to make the thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) and pump them into your bloodstream to be distributed to all organs in your body. When working properly, these hormones ensure that your metabolism, weight and mood, among many other body systems, are working well. You could think of the thyroid gland as your body's energy company. When it is underperforming, everything starts to slow down. When the thyroid is not active enough, it is known as hypothyroidism. This is when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones to support the optimal functioning of the different systems in your body and can result in many different symptoms.

The good news

Many of the unpleasant symptoms are reversable by adopting proactive lifestyle changes for thyroid health and if necessary, treatment options.

What you can do:

  • Do a thyroid self-exam Stand in front of your mirror and look for an enlarged thyroid gland. Move your head back; take a sip of water; and, as you swallow, examine your neck below the Adam's apple and above the collarbone. Look for lumps, then repeat the process a few times. If you see a lump, you need to visit your GP as soon as possible. 
  • Get tested If you think you have symptoms of a thyroid problem, it is best to ask your GP if you should be tested.
  • Make lifestyle changes to support thyroid health and weight loss:

Cut out simple carbs and sugars

  • Focus on complex carbohydrates like starchy vegetables and legumes.
  • Avoids simple sugars like sweets and fizzy drinks.
  • Foods like refined grain products and sugary drinks have a high glycaemic load and may increase inflammation in the body.
  • Eat enough calories. If you don't, it can cause a stress response and result in less production of T3 (the active thyroid hormone) production.

Eat more anti-inflammatory foods

  • Anti-inflammatory foods may help ease joint aches and pains as well as depression, all of which can result from an underactive thyroid.
  • Anti-inflammatory foods can help support the immune system, which is often in overdrive in people with hypothyroidism. 
  • Anti-inflammatory foods support the intake of the essential nutrients needed for healthy thyroid function. These include magnesium, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, iron and vitamin C. 
  • Eat more leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, fatty fish, nuts, fruit and olive oil, which may help with inflammation and put less burden on the liver. 
  • Healthy liver function is vital as it is responsible for converting 60% of T4 to T3.

Stick to small, frequent meals

  • A sluggish thyroid means slower digestion, so it’s advisable to eat smaller, balanced meals more frequently. This will also help support balanced blood-sugar levels and decrease cravings.
  • A diet high in healthy fats, moderate proteins and moderate to low carbohydrates is best for thyroid function.

Keep a food diary Logging your daily food intake will help you keep track of how much food you consume, and it will help make sure that you are eating a balanced diet.

Move your body It’s important to make exercise part of your lifestyle. It will help burn calories and keep your weight and health in check. 

Take the right supplements Herbex Thyroid Active Tablets contain Fucus vesiculosis (bladderwrack), Withania somnifera (winter cherry/ashwagandha) and added iodine and selenium, which may help promote normal thyroid hormone production.

*This information is supplied by a third-party client. Before using new products or medicines, always speak to your doctor first to find out if they could work for you.

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