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A loss of libido or sex drive when you have hypothyroidism (also often called an underactive thyroid), isn’t uncommon. But how do you stay intimate with a lack of sex? Or how do you navigate getting through this tricky time?
Sex isn’t the be all and end all but it does often form an intimate and important part of our romantic relationships. I hear from many of you whose relationships have been affected by this annoying thyroid symptom.
Related Article: Feeling Guilt and Shame for Not Wanting Sex With Hypothyroidism
Written by Adam Gask, partner of nine years to someone with Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism.
Knowing that hypothyroidism or adrenal issues can affect libido is really important. As a cis man, I know that most men are pretty much always ‘in the mood’ for sexual intimacy, and it can be difficult to grasp that your partner may not be. Especially if their sex drive used to be much higher. But try to remember that they haven’t chosen for this to happen, so try to avoid making comparisons between how they were a few years ago and then now. Life is always changing and that’s just life – but talking to your partner about how you feel can help. They often recognise this absence in your relationship and may feel guilty, but opening up and talking ensures that you can clear the air between you.
When the body is struggling, as it often is with hypothyroidism, it makes sense that it may put having sex at the bottom of its priority list. This is often hard to come to terms with.
After speaking to my wife at length about this topic, I’ve found that the best way to understand her point of view is like this:
Imagine someone has cooked you your favourite meal. It has everything you could possibly imagine. It’s perfect; the best sirloin steak, the best thin crust pizza, your favourite curry. It’s got everything, every possible accompaniment, every side order and your favourite drink to wash it all down with. Except, you’re not hungry because you feel sick. You’d love to demolish the entire thing, but can’t. It doesn’t appeal to you at all. No matter how much you’d like to eat it, you have no appetite and feel so ill. That is what having a low libido can feel like with hypothyroidism. It’s not a case of desire, it’s a case of situation. When a chronic illness can make you feel ill everyday, sex may not be the top of your priorities.
With hypothyroidism also having the tendency to change a person’s appearance, whether that be weight changes, skin changes (acne and eczema for example), hair loss etc. do also remind your significant other that you still love them and find them attractive. It’s not uncommon for their confidence to be knocked when physical changes that they can’t control occur. It’s possible they might even think you don’t find them as attractive. A lack of confidence can also contribute to not wanting to be sexually intimate.
You can also be intimate together in other ways than sex.
Back massages, walks without mobile phones and instead concentrating on talking to each other, date nights, making a point of reserving Sundays just for you two – these can all make you feel closer and often build intimacy in the way that it can naturally lead on to more of a desire to be sexually intimate together. Reconnect with each other, doing the things you often did before hypothyroidism appeared and trying to avoid getting frustrated about it – this won’t help the situation. What can help is focusing on what you can do now to help. You’ll find your way back to regular sexual intimacy with a strengthened connection.
Adam, long term partner of someone with Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism
This excerpt is from the book You, Me and Hypothyroidism: When Someone You Love Has Hypothyroidism. A book for those who know someone with hypothyroidism, such as a spouse or partner. More information on libido as well as many other topics can be found in the full book.
We often forget to recognise the strain that chronic illnesses can put on a relationship and I dread to think of how many relationships and marriages have broke down due to hypothyroidism.
Have you experienced this?
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Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and award-winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, blogger, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. She has two books: ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate‘ and ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism‘. Her thyroid advocacy work includes authoring books, writing articles, blogging and speaking on podcasts. Rachel has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, ThyroidChange and more. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and has received eight 2020 WEGO Health Award Nominations.