Hyperthyroidism – an overactive thyroid gland – can put men at a higher risk for erectile dysfunction (ED), according to new research.
It’s estimated that up to 60% of men with hyperthyroidism may have erectile difficulties.
“While anecdotal data indicates that erectile dysfunction is frequent in men with hyperthyroidism, this theory has only been superficially investigated. We demonstrated for the first time in two large samples that there is a strong correlation,” said researcher Dr. Giovanni Corona of the University of Florence in a press release.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, and sweating.
The study, conducted by team of European researchers, involved two groups of men. The first group, from the European Male Aging Study (EMAS), included 3,370 men from 8 European countries. The second group included 3,203 heterosexual men being treated for sexual dysfunction at the University of Florence’s Andrology and Sexual Medicine Outpatient Clinic (UNIFI).
Both groups of men were tested for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which controls the production of thyroid hormones, and free thyroxine (FT4), which is the main active thyroid hormone that circulates in the blood.
Of all 6,573 participants, 16 men were found to have hyperthyroidism (lower levels of TSH and higher levels of FT4).
In the EMAS group, the men with hyperthyroidism were 14 times more likely to have ED than the men who had normal thyroid function. In the UNIFI group, men with overactive thyroids were 16 times more likely to have erectile difficulties than the others.
The researchers also found that men had a higher risk of ED as their TSH levels decreased.
However, men with ED were not found to have a higher risk for developing hyperthyroidism.
The study authors suggest that men with hyperthyroidism should be assessed for erectile dysfunction. Further research could look at how thyroid hormones directly affect the penis and how thyroid therapy might help sexual function.
The study results were presented at the joint International Congress of Endocrinology and European Congress of Endocrinology in Florence, Italy. They were also published in the International Journal of Andrology.
International Congress of Endocrinology/European Congress of Endocrinology
“Hyperthyroidism linked to erectile dysfunction”
(Press release. May 9, 2012)
“Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)”
(December 4, 2010)
“Overactive thyroid linked to erectile dysfunction”
(May 9, 2012)