Sexual Health Q&A

Can thyroid problems contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Yes. Many men with thyroid problems have erectile dysfunction (ED).

Located in the neck, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that produces a number of hormones important for a person’s metabolism. These hormones have other functions, too, such as controlling body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid – occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormone. This condition is more common in women, but men should be concerned as well.

Hyperthyroidism refers to an overactive thyroid, when the gland produces too much thyroid hormone.

Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can affect a man’s ability to have erections, although scientists aren’t sure why.

In 2008, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published a report by researchers who examined the impact of these conditions on men’s sexual health. They found that 79% of the 71 men with thyroid problems had ED to some extent. It was more common in men with hypothyroidism.

Fortunately, treatment for both conditions can relieve erection problems.

Men with hypothyroidism can take medicine that brings thyroid hormones back to normal.

Some cases of hyperthyroidism can be treated with medication. In more severe cases, men may need to have the gland removed surgically or take radioactive iodine, which destroys it. These last two options stop the gland from producing any hormones, so men will need to take thyroid hormone replacement medication for their lifetime.

We encourage men to talk to their doctor with any thyroid or erection concerns.