Hypothyroidism in Men

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Whilst it’s true that hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s are more common in women, it doesn’t make men totally immune. As many as eight times more women than men are diagnosed with autoimmune hypothyroidism/an underactive thyroid, but that still leaves a lot of men out there battling the condition too. 

Could this be you or a loved one?

Whilst many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are non-gender specific, such as heavy fatigue, cold intolerance, weight gain, muscle aches, mental health struggles, constipation, brain fog and dry skin, some specific symptoms that men can experience in addition to these include erectile dysfunction, infertility issues, low testosterone levels, slow facial hair growth, premature balding or thinning of hair and reduced muscle mass. 

Studies have demonstrated that 64% of men with hypothyroidism experienced low libido, erectile dysfunction, sperm abnormalities and delayed ejaculation, but it is worth knowing that most (if not all) symptoms of hypothyroidism including these, should disappear or greatly improve with optimal thyroid treatment.

However, as touched on above when I stated that a higher amount of women than men have hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s, many men are going undiganosed or misdiagnosed due to being overlooked.

I’ve made it no secret that a large amount of thyroid patients go years before finally being tested for a thyroid condition, after misdiagnoses or being dismissed, especially women, but men are also not likely to be tested for a thyroid panel by default either. I’d say they’re even less likely than women. Especially as the thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, which is made up of glands that produce and secrete hormones (that regulate the body’s growth, metabolism and sexual function), and when you think of someone with a hormonal imbalance, you tend to think of a woman. Not a man.

As with many women who go back and forth to the doctors for years, a man with hypothyroid symptoms may be told that they are just common things men hisage experience, or that only women get thyroid problems. But don’t let that stop you getting thoroughly tested and checked out for one.

In order to test for a thyroid condition, a full thyroid panel must be conducted. If you’ve been tested before and told your thyroid levels are fine, please ask for the results to be printed out and check what you were actually tested for. A full thyroid panel consists of not only TSH (which is inaccurate when used alone), but also Free T3, Free T4 and thyroid antibodies TpoAb and TgAb. Reverse T3 is also hugely beneficial to test but very rarely done.

In terms of results, you’re looking for optimal levels, as falling within range often isn’t enough. I’m just one of thousands of thyroid patients who knows they feel best with optimal results and even when my results fell in range and were declared ‘normal’, I felt awful.

Sources such as Stop The Thyroid MadnessHypothyroid Mom and Mary Shomon as well as functional medicine, all agree that a TSH less than 2 is considered optimal. This means that most thyroid patients feel most well when their TSH is less than 2. A Free T3 in the top quarter of the range is recommended, with a Free T4 mid-range or a little higher. I do personally feel best at these levels too. It is important to understand that different labs/doctors use different ranges, so you must interpret your results individually, finding where mid-range and the top quarter is for your individual ranges.

It is also worth knowing that you can order your own lab tests online, which is often crucial in many thyroid patients’ journeys back to good health. I’ve listed some places you can order them here.

If you’re already on thyroid medication and still don’t feel well, then please check out the many other possible pieces to your thyroid jigsaw listed here. While some thyroid patients feel their thyroid medication alone returns them back to good health, many others still have other issues to address, and I’ve listed them all for you to tick off here.

Thyroid conditions have a genetic component and are  often passed down, especially Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. So having a parent, aunt or uncle with a thyroid condition increases your risk of having one too. Whether you or they are male, female, have an overactive or underactive thyroid condition.

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

If you found this article beneficial, please take a moment to share it so we can help others get better with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's, whilst also raising awareness. "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate."

Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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Rachel Hill, Thyroid Patient Advocate, blogger and author, has Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites and has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and also contributed the foreword to Emily Kyle’s The 30-Minute Thyroid Cookbook.

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