I'm a GP and here's the 4 signs a hidden thyroid problem is ruining your sex life | The Sun
IT'S estimated that as many as one in 20 people may have a thyroid condition.
About two per cent of Brits have hypothyroidism – when the thyroid doesn't produce enough hormones – according to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) figures from 2019.
The thyroid, a tiny butterfly-shaped gland in front of the windpipe whose job is to produce two hormones — triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) — that help to regulate things such as your heart rate, body temperature and metabolism.
More than five per cent of those over the age of 60 have an underactive thyroid and women are 5 to 10 times more likely to be affected than men, NICE said.
People can also experience hyperthyroidism, which is when the same gland produces too many thyroid hormones.
A new UK study surveyed people with thyroid disorders.
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Commissioned by at-home healthcare testing provider Medichecks, it found that nearly three quarters (71 per cent) of those polled believe the health condition has negatively affected their sex life.
In particular, they experienced:
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Reduced sexual satisfaction
- Difficulty reaching orgasm
A staggering 70 per cent of participants- both male and female – said they had experienced low libido, with 44 per cent of male respondents reporting experiencing erectile dysfunction.
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Over a fourth (26 per cent) shared they had reduced sexual satisfaction and almost as may (21 per cent) said they had a difficult time orgasming.
Dr Natasha Fernando, a GP and head of clinical excellence at Medichecks explained: “Thyroid disorders are notoriously difficult to recognise because so many of the symptoms, like extreme fatigue, weight gain, muscle aches, depression, and slow movement and thoughts, can also be linked to so many other conditions.
“The road to securing a diagnosis isn’t straightforward – and some people can be very reticent about talking about some of their symptoms, especially if they involve their sex lives and mental health. They might simply link a low libido, for example, to feeling tired or stressed at work and just try to struggle on.
“But if someone’s sex drive has dropped significantly, or they are experiencing erectile dysfunction, they should not suffer in silence."
She urged people to always mention their lower libido to a GP, "especially if some of the other more well-recognised symptoms of thyroid dysfunction mentioned here sound familiar too".
Most of those surveyed (88 per cent) said they had experienced mental health problems as a result of their condition, including low mood (76 per cent), an inability to think clearly or concentrate (71 per cent), lack of motivation (70 per cent) and feeling misunderstood (55 per cent).
Just over half (52 per cent) said they had experienced insomnia due to their thyroid disorder.
Whilst targeted treatment can help alleviate many of the symptoms of thyroid problems, delays in diagnosis can leave many people struggling for months, even years, with debilitating health problems.
Sure enough, 32 per cent of those surveyed Medichecks said they had waited over a year between the onset of their symptoms and receiving a diagnosis.
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And 88 per cent of the respondents said felt they’ve had to take matters into their own hands to manage the condition.
Dr Fernando urged anyone suffering from symptoms that might be thyroid-related to take 'a comprehensive blood test', which can be "a useful and discreet first step in helping to discover whether your symptoms are thyroid related, or if there is something else amiss".
Symptoms of an overactive or underactive thyroid
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just in front of the windpipe, which produces hormones that affect things such as your heart rate and body temperature.
An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. When it produces too many hormones, its known as an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism.
Both conditions cause different symptoms. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid are often similar to those of other conditions, and they usually develop slowly, so you may not notice them for years.
- being sensitive to cold
- weight gain
- slow movements and thoughts
- muscle aches and weakness
- muscle cramps
- dry and scaly skin
- brittle hair and nails
- loss of libido
- pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers
- irregular periods or heavy periods
If you have any of these symptoms, see a GP and ask to be tested for an underactive thyroid.
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid:
- nervousness, anxiety and irritability
- mood swings
- difficulty sleeping
- persistent tiredness and weakness
- sensitivity to heat
- swelling in your neck from an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre)
- an irregular and/or unusually fast heart rate (palpitations)
- twitching or trembling
- weight loss
See a GP if you these symptoms.
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