That Embarrassing Topic: A Low Libido/Loss of Sex Drive with Hypothyroidism

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Originally published on 11th April 2017
Last updated on 19th February 2019

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.

But why?

Low Sex Drive and Thyroid Problems

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?

Sex Hormones and Adrenals

As well as thyroid hormones, your adrenal hormones can also be involved. Many people with hypothyroidism also find they have adrenal fatigue (note: it is more accurately referred to as hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction), a separate condition that is identified by having too much or too little of the stress hormone cortisol.  However, your adrenal are also involved in the synthesis of DHEA, testosterone, aldosterone, oestrogen and progesterone, other important hormones. Especially important to your libido. All of these share the same precursor, pregnenolone.

The link between your libido and adrenals occurs here. When adrenal fatigue exists in the form of high cortisol, it can start to ‘steal’ more progesterone than is ideal, as it’s the precursor to cortisol, in order to produce more cortisol and keep up high levels. This can lead to oestrogen dominance, where the ratio of oestrogen to progesterone is very off.

Testing

Therefore, if you have an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, or even if you don’t and have a lack of interest in sex, experience erectile dysfunction etc. or related libido isues, it’s crucial that you have a full thyroid panel tested, to include TSH, Free T4 and that all important Free T3.

However, it would also be worth looking in to your sex hormone levels, namely oestrogren, progesterone and testosterone, and adrenal tests, since abnormal results 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.

Medications That Can Affect Libido

There are also some medications that can affect your libido too, and many thyroid patients are taking these.

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Hormonal Contraceptives/Birth Control
  • Hypertension drugs/Beta Blockers
  • Statins

If your sex drive is a little absent and you’re taking any of the above, make sure to discuss it with your doctor. There may be other treatment options to these that won’t affect your sex drive.

Going Forward

The good news is, that when low thyroid hormone levels are corrected, as well as sex hormone levels and adrenal dysfunction, 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 when 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. Explain that it’s no ones fault, but, if anything, you’ve got to work together to correct this. And be patient. 

THe following link has BEEN SPONSORED BY ReGAIN.US. 

You could also consider whether couples therapy may help you to talk about your concerns and feelings surrounding living with a partner with hypothyroidism, too. See Regain.us for more info here: https://www.regain.us/advice/therapist/couples-therapy-cost-is-it-worth-it/

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

This post may contain affiliate links, to find out more information, please read my disclosure statement.
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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6 thoughts on “That Embarrassing Topic: A Low Libido/Loss of Sex Drive with Hypothyroidism

  1. It will always be difficult for a relationship to go through if your other partner wants an intimacy in your relationship. Having low libido can be the worst problem there could be. On this site, you’ve completely explained not to let the embarrassment eat you alive.

  2. So sad I didn’t know this…. all of it 10 years ago!!!…. it might have saved my relationship.
    So good to read and learn about all of the issues that come with it. I’m on thyroxine since 3 years but still suffer from tiredness, no drive, sluggishness, brain fog, can’t concentrate or focus never mind planing ahead. Got so many aches and pains…… carpal tunnel op done left hand, my right eye is still looking much bigger than the other hair is not what it was and constantly dry skin. Living on my own with two rescue dogs in a static caravan with some issues and no security for the future, earning little so off course life gets stressful sometimes it’s hart looking after yourself alone. Not sure what courses what? Why did my thyroids pack in in the first place???
    Thank you for giving me some answers and for sharing and caring
    Thank you 😊

    1. Yes it’s incredibly sad that so many relationships have likely suffered from this information not being widely out there. It’s why I’m working on a new book that talks to our friends, family and partners. And libido will most definitely be covered!

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