For those who believe the thyroid gland has nothing to do with fertility, they’re unfortunately wrong. Your thyroid gland is a key endocrine gland, meaning it produces hormones that are important for normal bodily functions. And because it produces hormones, when you have thyroid gland problems, your hormonal balance will be affected, too.
Your thyroid gland is responsible for synthesizing triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are needed for regulating your metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature. However, when you have hypothyroidism, it can lead to reduced sex hormone levels. Here’s how hypothyroidism can cause male infertility.
Effects of Hypothyroidism on Hormonal Health
When you have hypothyroidism, it upsets your hormonal balance. An underactive thyroid results in reduced levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a glycoprotein that binds to both estrogen and androgen.
Low SHBG levels are strongly associated with various medical conditions such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. These conditions are also considered risk factors for infertility and erectile dysfunction.
Hypothyroidism can also cause a reduction in your total serum testosterone levels. In addition, your luteinizing hormone (LH) levels and follicle-stimulating hormone levels (FSH) may also decrease due to hypothyroidism. These three hormones are very important for your fertility since these hormones act directly on your testicular cells.
Luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone act in synergy with each other. Your Leydig cells, which are responsible for the testicular production of testosterone, only start producing your male sex hormone when they’re chemically triggered by LH. On the one hand, your Sertoli cells need FSH stimulation in order to begin sperm production.
When your testosterone, LH, and FSH levels are low, your sperm production will be negatively affected. Sperm maturation will also be hampered since your sperm cells need testosterone for them to mature normally.
Moreover, hypothyroidism is tied with subnormal levels of bioavailable testosterone accompanied by increased circulating levels of estradiol. This kind of hormonal imbalance in men can lead to erectile dysfunction, gynecomastia or breast tissue enlargement, and reduced libido.
Effects of Hypothyroidism on Testicular Function
When hypothyroidism occurs before you reach puberty and it doesn’t get treated for a long time, your Leydig and Sertoli cells may fail to mature properly. And if you don’t have enough mature Leydig and Sertoli cells, it means that you won’t be able to produce sperm and testosterone efficiently.
In addition, the Leydig and Sertoli cells that didn’t mature stay in your testicles, and they add to the number of cells in your testes. This is why men who had hypothyroidism before puberty often have larger testicles and low numbers of mature germ cells in their seminiferous tubules.
Hypothyroidism is also associated with a reduction in the diameter of the seminiferous tubules. Testicular weight, prostate weight, and epididymal weight are also lower in men with hypothyroidism.
Effects of Hypothyroidism on Semen Quality
Several studies have shed light on the association between hypothyroidism and male infertility. In particular, hypothyroidism negatively affects semen quality. An underactive thyroid compromises your semen volume as well as your progressive sperm motility. Abnormal sperm morphology is also associated with hypothyroidism.
In addition, hypothyroidism causes an increase in seminal oxidative stress levels. Men with hypothyroidism often have lower antioxidant capacity. This means that your antioxidant defense system is unable to effectively protect your sperm cells from oxidative stress damage. High oxidative stress levels also contribute to impaired semen viability.
The good news is that in men with short-term post-pubertal hypothyroidism, the seminal alterations associated with an underactive thyroid may not be enough to cause infertility. In short, if you develop hypothyroidism after puberty and you get it treated right away, you may still experience a reduction in your semen quality but you will still be fertile.
Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism symptoms take a long time to develop, so you may not notice them at first. For instance, if you’ve gained weight and are frequently feeling fatigued, you may think it’s just because you’re feeling the effects of age. But fatigue and weight gain are actually two of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Other common symptoms include dry skin, constipation, muscle weakness, increased sensitivity to cold temperatures, and elevated blood cholesterol levels. Joint pain or joint swelling, muscle aches and stiffness, slowed heart rate, and hoarseness are also typical symptoms of an underactive thyroid.
Hypothyroidism may also cause depression, thinning hair, and impaired memory. Moreover, if your hypothyroidism isn’t treated for a long time, it can lead to overstimulation of your thyroid gland. This can result in an enlarged thyroid or goiter.
Treatment Options For Hypothyroidism
Once diagnosed, oral medications can help reduce the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Your doctor will prescribe a synthetic thyroid hormone which you’ll need to take daily. Since your thyroid gland isn’t producing sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones, you’ll need to increase your thyroid hormone levels through these medicines.
However, since hypothyroidism is usually lifelong, it means that you’ll need to take synthetic thyroid hormone medications for the rest of your life. If you stop taking your medication, your hypothyroidism symptoms will resurface. This can cause problems again with your health, sexual function, and fertility.
Enhancing Your Fertility
For men dealing with infertility issues, all-natural male enhancement supplements can help enhance your fertility. This is a sex enhancement supplement that’s composed of herbal ingredients which are known to improve sexual functioning and increase male fertility.
It contains herbs such as maca, Tongkat Ali, and Tribulus terrestris. These are herbs that can increase your sperm count and motility as well as improve your sperm morphology.
Maca, Tongkat Ali, and Tribulus terrestris have been repeatedly shown to improve fertility and sexual performance in men. These three herbs are actually widely recognized for their efficacy in improving erectile function and treating impotence. They’re also popular as sexual stamina and sexual virility boosters.
It also contains libido enhancers such as damiana and muira puama. These aphrodisiacs are widely used in traditional medicine to cure male sexual problems and to increase sexual vigor. Butea superba, Xanthoparmelia scabrosa, and horny goat weed are also included in the formulation of these supplements.