The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland on the front of the throat. It produces hormones that affect energy use and metabolism of cells throughout the body. Because of this, an imbalance of thyroid hormones can produce a wide variety of symptoms.
Women are far more likely than men to suffer from problems with the thyroid. However, men certainly can also have thyroid problems.
While many of the symptoms of thyroid problems in men are the same as those in women, others are specific to men. The symptoms of hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, in men may include:
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, in men may include:
As you can see, sexual problems, hair loss, muscle weakness, and low testosterone can be caused by either low or high levels of thyroid hormones. If you have any possible symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism in men, you’ll need to get tested to find out what’s happening with your thyroid.
It’s also important to note that some men with thyroid issues may not notice any symptoms. One study found that only 91.3% of men with obvious hypothyroidism found on a blood test noticed any symptoms. The other 8.7% of the men weren’t aware of any symptoms. In the same study, about half of men with normal thyroid function reported at least one possible symptom of hypothyroidism, usually fatigue.
The potential causes of thyroid problems in men are the same as those in women. However, certain thyroid diseases in men are far less common than they are in women. For example, women suffer from autoimmune diseases more commonly than men do, including those that affect the thyroid.
Some of the more common causes of hypothyroidism in males include:
Some of the more common causes of hyperthyroidism in men include:
In order to find out whether you have a thyroid problem, you’ll need to get blood tests. Whether you’re a female or a male, thyroid problems will generally show up in similar ways on a blood test. Some useful thyroid tests include:
Whether you’re a female or a male, thyroid levels can be tested in a few different ways. You can go to your doctor and have them order a lab test, then go to the lab to have your blood drawn. Another option is to order a home testing kit. You take a small blood sample (obtained by a fingerprick) and send it back to the lab.
If your results are abnormal, then you’ll need to follow up with a doctor to discuss treatment. The home testing services generally have doctors who you can consult via telemedicine to talk about your results and decide on a plan.
Carle A, Pedersen IB, et al, Gender differences in symptoms of hypothyroidism: a population-based DanThyr study. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 2015 Nov;83(5):717-25. doi: 10.1111/cen.12787.
Canaris GJ, Manowitz NR, et al. The Colorado thyroid disease prevalence study. Arch Intern Med 2000 Feb 28;160(4):526-34. doi: 10.1001/archinte.160.4.526.
Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid). National Institutes of Health. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hyperthyroidism. Accessed 12 May 2022.
Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid). National Institutes of Health. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hypothyroidism. Accessed 12 May 2022.
Thyroid Patient Information. American Thyroid Association. https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-information/. Accessed 12 May 2022.