Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease that most commonly affects women. However, there is a significant proportion of men that also contract the disease. The disease tends to develop more advanced complications in men because most male patients tend to ignore initial symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment allows patients to prevent the more dire consequences of the disease and even reverse the current symptoms of hypothyroidism.
MayoClinic.com reports that the initial symptom that men with hypothyroidism may feel is fatigue. This general feeling of weakness may also present as a sluggishness and slow movement. This initial symptom is often brushed off as a sign of aging, or just "a bad day", but chronic fatigue with no other explanation can point to a more serious ailment like hypothyroidism.
According to Thyroid-guide.org, men often experience depression as their thyroid hormone levels decrease. This symptom is usually linked with fatigue and the two symptoms can feed off each other. A typical patient will be too tired to perform daily tasks, and this inability to act leads to a subtle depression. The depression can start off as a mild case, but as thyroid hormone levels continue to decrease the depression can become more severe.
Almost all hypothyroid patients experience a level of weight gain. The decreased levels of exercise most fatigued hypothyroid patients experience can exacerbate this weight gain. Men tend to gain weight a little later in the progression of the disease, but when the weight gain happens, it is quick and extreme. Weight gain despite a decreased appetite and attempts to control weight are symptoms of an underlying disease.
Most men tend to work out or perform physical labor throughout the day. MayoClinic.com lists muscle pains as a symptom of hypothyroidism. Since men tend to more commonly have these aches and pains, they are more likely to shrug off even the most uncomfortable muscle aches. This can cause a delay in diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Men who experience extreme muscle pain, unexplained aches, or intense cramps even during rest, should seek medical advice.
Loss of Hair
Thyroid-guide.org lists hair loss as a common symptom of hypothyroidism. This hair loss is more common on the eyebrows, but some people do experience loss of scalp hair. This is more alarming in women, but can be a source of anxiety in men. Sudden loss of hair can be a sign that thyroid hormone levels are low.
According to the study "Multicenter Study on the Prevalence of Sexual Symptoms in Male Hypo- and Hyperthyroid Patients" in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, most men experience some form of sexual dysfunction. The study states that 64.3 percent of men experienced decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and delayed ejaculation. The study also showed the 7.1 percent of hypothyroid males experienced episodes of premature ejaculation. Sexual dysfunction can be a source of severe anxiety in men and may lead to increased feelings of depression. Men who have these problems should not be ashamed to tell their doctors about their experiences. In most cases the dysfunction is treatable, and by going to a doctor, a more serious underlying disease may be diagnosed.
Intolerance to Cold
Hypothyroid patients tend to experience a decreased ability to deal with cold temperatures. This is a symptom that is difficult to notice because most men will attempt to ignore their discomfort. This is an example of how men ignore less obvious symptoms, and, therefore, delay the diagnosis of the disease. If the intolerance to cold is severe or is a chronic condition, then perhaps a doctor's consultation is required.
Inability to Concentrate and Memory Loss
Most men with hypothyroidism also complain of a decreased ability to concentrate and also memory loss. MayoClinic.com agrees with this testimony and lists concentration and memory problems as symptoms of hypothyroidism. These symptoms are not solely linked to hypothyroidism and can be seen as signs of aging. Therefore, patients do not see the urgency to seek a doctor if they are experiencing such minor symptoms. However, if these symptoms are apparent with other conditions on this list then the patient may be suffering from hypothyroidism.
- Male Hypothyroidism Symptoms: Thyroid-Guide.org
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid): MayoClinic.com
- Multicenter Study on the Prevalence of Sexual Symptoms in Male Hypo- and Hyperthyroid Patients Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism , doi:10.1210/jc.2005-1135 The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 90, No. 12 6472-6479