Are you experiencing brain fog, depression and anxiety, hair loss, muscle weakness or erectile disfunction? You may be suffering from thyroid disease.
While many think of thyroid disease as a condition that only affects women, this isn’t the case. Women are ten times more likely to have thyroid disease, but many men also suffer from this condition.
Men tend to have sex-specific symptoms of thyroid disease. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms have multiple potential causes, making it difficult for men to get the testing and treatment they need.
Here’s what you need to know about men and thyroid disease.
The Functioning of the Thyroid
Your thyroid is a gland located at the front of your neck that’s responsible for producing multiple hormones responsible for maintaining a healthy metabolic rate, promoting an optimal body temperature, and regulating the body’s growth and development.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), thyroxine (T4), and triiodothyronine (T3) all affect the functioning of your thyroid gland.
The brain’s pituitary gland produces TSH. TSH then signals the thyroid gland to release T3 and T4. The primary function of TSH is to regulate the production of T3 and T4. T3 and T4 are responsible for regulating your body’s metabolism.
Your body primarily produces T4; the liver then converts T4 into T3.
Disrupting one of these hormones will impact the levels of the other hormones. For example, changing the production of TSH lowers your T3 and T4 levels. If your T3 and T4 levels are too high, your brain produces less TSH.
Low levels of T3 may mean that your thyroid isn’t producing enough T4 or that the liver is struggling to convert it to T3.
When your thyroid hormone levels are too high or too low, this affects your body’s production of other hormones.
For example, when your thyroid levels are too low, this changes the production of your sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). High SHGB levels impact your fertility and can contribute to a lack of interest in sex and erectile disfunction.
Causes of Thyroid Disease in Men
There are multiple causes of thyroid disease in men. Autoimmune diseases, like Hashimoto’s, are one of the most common causes of thyroid disease.
With Hashimoto’s, your body’s immune system mistakes your thyroid gland as a threat and attacks it, impacting its ability to produce sufficient hormone levels.
This leads to a condition known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones.
Another autoimmune disease that harms the thyroid is Grave’s disease. Grave’s disease is a common cause of another thyroid disease known as hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism means that your thyroid produces too many hormones. Grave’s disease causes the immune system to attack the thyroid resulting in an overproduction of thyroid hormone.
Other causes of thyroid disease include nutritional deficiencies and damage or inflammation to the thyroid. Some individuals are born with thyroid disease, or they may experience thyroid damage due to certain medical procedures or medications.
Thyroid nodules (lumps found within your thyroid) is another condition that can lead to thyroid disease. Stress can also alter your body’s production of thyroid hormones.
Symptoms of Thyroid Disease in Men
Thyroid disease affects the regulation of cell metabolism throughout your whole body. This leads to widespread symptoms that make it difficult to name thyroid disease as the culprit.
Since thyroid disease influences the production of other hormones, it can cause symptoms in men which women with thyroid disease may not experience.
Some of the most reported symptoms of thyroid disease in men include:
- High cholesterol
- Brain fog
- Lower sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Hair loss
- Low sperm count
- Lower testosterone levels
There are some symptoms unique to hypothyroidism. These symptoms are:
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Intolerance to cold
There are other symptoms specific to hyperthyroidism. Some of these symptoms are:
- Muscle weakness due to a loss of muscle mass
- Heart palpitations
- Trembling hands
- Weight loss
- Heat intolerance
- More frequent bowel movements
- Breast enlargement
Diagnosing Thyroid Disease in Men
Many medical professionals fail to consider thyroid disease as a potential cause of a man’s symptoms. This is due to the lower frequency of thyroid disease in men when compared to the frequency in women.
Women in general are significantly more likely to have Hashimoto’s or Grave’s, the autoimmune diseases known to disrupt the thyroid.
Irregular thyroid levels influence your body’s production of other hormones, including testosterone. Many of the symptoms of low testosterone are similar to those associated with thyroid disease.
Testosterone levels decline naturally as men age, and they can also be impacted by lifestyle factors, like alcohol usage, obesity, and sleep apnea.
This makes it likely that a medical professional will detect a man’s low testosterone levels without realizing that the cause of these abnormal levels is thyroid disease.
If you’re experiencing symptoms associated with thyroid disease, it’s essential to undergo testing to determine if your thyroid is functioning properly. Even if your doctor doesn’t think thyroid disease is a possibility, it’s important to request testing for a definitive diagnosis.
An imaging test, like an ultrasound, radioactive iodine uptake (RAI-U), or MRI, will detect signs of thyroid disease. These tests allow the doctor to view the size and shape of your thyroid.
However, a simple blood test is a more efficient, cost-effective way to diagnose thyroid disease. A quick finger prick supplies a blood sample that’s then analyzed to determine if your thyroid hormone levels are within a normal range.
You can go to a lab for your blood test, or you can conduct the blood test in the comfort and privacy of your home. Paloma offers an in-home testing kit that makes it easy to monitor the health of your thyroid.
After collecting your blood sample, you send your sample to a lab so they can analyze it. You’ll usually have your results in a week or so.
If your levels are too high or too low, Paloma provides at-home counseling to help you get started with obtaining an official diagnosis so you can start treating your thyroid disease.
Treatments for Thyroid Disease
If your thyroid hormone levels suggest thyroid disease, it’s essential to consult with a medical professional to explore your treatment options. Your exact treatment will depend on if you have hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism and the underlying causes of your disease.
One treatment for hyperthyroidism is medication that’s designed to lower the rate of your thyroid’s hormone production. Your thyroid may eventually function normally, or you might need to take medication long-term.
There are more intensive treatments for hyperthyroidism, like a thyroidectomy (removing part of the thyroid) or iodine ablation (destroying the thyroid tissue). However, these treatments eventually cause hypothyroidism.
A common treatment for hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone replacement medication. You’ll need to take this medication for the rest of your life to keep your hormones at the appropriate levels.
Improving your body’s overall health, including your gut health, can help with stabilizing your body’s thyroid levels. MegaSporeBiotic is a probiotic that’s entirely spore-based.
It works to support a healthy gut barrier that can reduce inflammation in your body. This includes thyroid inflammation.
Since inflammation can affect how your cells function, eliminating it can help your cells (including those in your thyroid) function like they’re supposed to.
MegaSporeBiotic is an easy-to-swallow capsule or just sprinkle it into a hot or cold drink or onto your food.
Restoring your gut barrier to healthy levels can also help you treat a leaky gut. Leaky gut occurs when your gut’s lining is broken or damaged.
This permits toxins and digested food to reach the tissues under it, causing additional damage to your gut health. An unhealthy gut can cause whole body inflammation that impacts your body’s functions, including your thyroid’s hormone production.
Even if probiotics don’t completely treat your thyroid disease, they promote optimal gut health that makes it easier to restore your thyroid hormones to the appropriate levels.
The Bottom Line
Man can experience thyroid disease and exhibit symptoms that are often mistaken for those caused by other ailments. A simple blood test can determine if your thyroid’s hormone levels are too high or too low. If you’re suffering from thyroid disease, pursuing treatment that also addresses the causes of your thyroid condition can make it easier for you to treat and manage your disease.