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Your Thyroid and Low Testosterone — What’s the Connection?
Let’s discuss the relationship between men’s thyroid and low testosterone, particularly hypothyroidism and how testosterone replacement therapy could improve your health, feelings of wellbeing, and quality of life.
(It’s important to note that the symptoms of hypothyroidism differ between men and women — this article specifically addresses male hypothyroidism and Low T, but you can read more about hypothyroidism and low testosterone in women here.)
Thyroid and Low Testosterone — Some Basics
Taking a look at human anatomy for a moment, our thyroid gland is located just below your “Adam’s apple.” If you were to take a cross-section photograph of that area, you would find the larynx (voice box), the hyoid bone (often called the tongue bone), and the thyroid gland.
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is responsible for production of thyroid hormone.
When your thyroid doesn’t function properly, you either get too much thyroid hormone (a disease called hyperthyroidism), or too little thyroid hormone (a disease called hypothyroidism).
Areas often affected by fluctuations in thyroid hormone production are the skeleton, the heart, and the metabolic machinery of your cells.
Thyroid hormone (Triiodothyronine or T3) has regulatory effects on most organs of the body, and regulates our overall metabolic rate. That’s why it is connected to changes in body weight as well as changes in energy levels.
Hypothyroidism and Testosterone Replacement Therapy — The Symptoms
The symptoms of low thyroid may include:
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Elevated cholesterol and weight gain
- Dry skin
- Inability to concentrate and remember
- Low blood pressure
- Thinning outer eyebrows
- Feeling cold
It’s interesting to note that some of these symptoms overlap those we typically identify as symptoms of low testosterone, particularly the ones related to sexual function, energy levels, concentration, hair loss, and weight fluctuation.
These common symptoms actually aren’t so surprising given the possible relationship between the hypothyroidism and Low T.
Thyroid and Low Testosterone — The Cause
When examining the distinct relationship between the thyroid and low testosterone, researchers have observed a chain reaction that can take place starting in the thyroid gland.
Proper production of thyroid hormone stimulates the hypothalamus, resulting in production of GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone).
GnRH then signals the pituitary gland to produce LH (luteinizing hormone).
LH signals the testes to produce — you guessed it — testosterone.
If this system starts off with poor production of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism), a normal level of GnRH won’t be produced, the pituitary gland then won’t get the proper message, causing low production of LH. Poor LH production means the testes won’t be signalled to produce enough testosterone.
The final result? You can be left with Low T levels.
It might also interest you to note that studies show a connection between hyperthyroidism and testosterone levels as well.
Thyroid and Low Testosterone — Some Treatment Options
This is where it gets complicated — we noted above the overlapping symptoms.
When dealing with your hormone levels, we’re looking at a very complicated system, so diagnoses and treatments are always complex.
We need to get an overall picture of what is going on through a complete panel of tests.