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Thyroid Health for Men – How Thyroid Problems Affect Male Fertility

Thyroid Health for Men – How Thyroid Problems Affect Male Fertility

Thyroid Health for Men – How Thyroid Problems Affect Male FertilityAs many as 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Women are up to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. However, thyroid disorders affect many men, and are similar to those in women.

Thyroid problems common in men include: hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune hypothyroidism), Graves’ disease (autoimmune hyperthyroidism) or thyroid cancers. This article explores the connection between thyroid problems and male infertility and discusses supportive natural therapies to normalize the thyroid to encourage healthy male fertility.

Thyroid gland problems lead to shifts in metabolism, energy and reproductive health. Here are body signs to look for:

Low thyroid (hypothyroidism) symptoms in men are similar to symptoms of low testosterone and include:

hair loss
low metabolism
weight gain
low libido
higher risk of infections
cold hands and feet
muscle weakness

Hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone-Grave’s disease) is rarer, but symptoms include:

weight loss
changes in appetite
bulging eyes
rapid heartbeat

The Thyroid/Fertility Connection in Men

In a study published in Archives of Andrology, hypothyroidism in men was linked to reduced sperm volume and motility. Another study published in the journal Thyroid connects hypothyroidism to sperm defects. Hypothyroidism can also cause low libido and erection problems. It may even lower key male fertility hormones like testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).

While there is less research on the topic, hyperthyroidism in men (Graves’ disease) is linked to fertility issues too. High thyroid levels can lead to higher than normal testosterone and gonadotropin hormones, which may damage sperm.

Thyroid Testing is Critical

If you’re a man dealing with unexplained infertility, have your thyroid checked out to see where you stand.

A complete thyroid panel for men should include:

  • blood levels of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone)
  • free and total T3 (triiodothyronine). (Free means unbound to protein; Total means unbound plus bound)
  • free and total T4 (thyroxine)
  • reverse T3 (triiodothyronine)
  • TSI (thyroid stimulating hormone receptor antibody)
  • TPO (thyroid peroxidase antibody)
  • TGAb (thyroglobulin antibody)

Your endocrine system is a unique symphony of glands that work together. TSH testing measures the pituitary gland’s response to the thyroid. A high level of TSH means hypothyroidism, as the pituitary is releasing more TSH to stimulate an underactive thyroid to release more T3 and T4. Low TSH means the pituitary is reducing its TSH hormone production to help control and lower the secretion of T3 and T4 from an overactive thyroid.

What thyroid values are optimal for men?

In 2002, the Society of Endocrinologists revealed that the reference ranges most used for thyroid levels (0.50 to 5.5 mIU/L ) were inaccurate. As a result, many men with hypothyroidism went undiagnosed. Unfortunately, some labs still use this outdated range.

According to the revised standards, 0.3 to 3.3 mIU/L is considered the normal range of TSH in adults. A knowledgeable physician will look for other important clues. For instance, many physicians think that your free circulating thyroid, T3 and T4, should be at the midpoint of the reference range, if not higher. The presence of thyroid antibodies is also important. Antibody presence can indicate Hashimoto’s disease (the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S.) or Graves’ disease.

Natural Thyroid Support for Male Fertility

While testing is critical, natural approaches can support the thyroid gland and optimal fertility. Diet changes are a good place to start. The thyroid gland requires iodine for proper functioning. Men with low thyroid often have more energy when they include more iodine-rich, organic seaweed, seafood, or cranberries in their diet. (Some people with Hashimoto’s are worsened with iodine, so you may need to experiment with what works for you.)

For low thyroid (hypothyroidism), it’s important to avoid anti-thyroid nutrients like excessive, uncooked cruciferous vegetables and soy foods. These foods block healthy thyroid activity. Reducing them can produce a great change, especially for men with fertility issues who have been on a “raw foods” diet or a vegetarian diet that relies heavily on soy.

A formula like ThyroFem that contains zinc, iodine, selenium and the amino acid l-tyrosine, can encourage healthy thyroid function in men and women alike. This blend includes adaptogen herbs, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), which support the endocrine system.

In addition, consider natural adrenal support. The thyroid and adrenal glands work together. A supplement that benefits one will benefit the other. A good choice is a blend like Adrenal Strength, which contains 100% whole food nutrients, medicinal mushrooms, and tonic herbs like Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis).

High thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is harder to address naturally. However, herbs like Bugleweed (Ajuga virginicus) and Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) can calm thyroid storms and relax the heart. An immune balancing program may also help normalize thyroid antibody production.

In Summary…

If you’re dealing with a thyroid-related fertility issue, there are many natural therapies and herbs to consider as well as medical interventions. Addressing a thyroid problem may completely resolve a man’s fertility issue, especially if there is no other suspected cause.


Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Kimberly Langdon Cull is a University-trained Obstetrician/Gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She delivered over 2000 babies and specializes in gynecologic diseases such as menstrual disorders, infertility diagnosis and treatment especially pertaining to tubal blockage and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Dr. Langdon is the inventor of 6 patent pending medical devices, and attended Ohio State University from 1987-1995 receiving her Medical Doctorate Degree (M.D.) with Honors in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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    For many years, we have been ttc, without success; recently I came to the realization that I may be dealing with a thyroid problem that has gone undiagnosed for nearly 20 years, and the issues my husband is dealing with appear to also be linked to a thyroid issue. Soon, we will both see a specialist, to hopefully get to the bottom of everything and resolve these issues so we can live a healthy life, and hopefully have the family we’ve been trying to have all this time.