Symptoms of Thyroid in Male Infertility

While more common in women, thyroid issues affect men, too, and can contribute to their infertility. The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the front of your neck produces T3 and T4 hormones that are important for normal semen quality, adequate sperm count, testicular function, libido, and normal erectile function – all of which are key when it comes to conceiving.

Symptoms of thyroid in males may be experienced with both low and high thyroid hormone production, and an imbalance of these hormones may affect the levels of other important fertility hormones like Testosterone, LH, and FSH.

Symptoms of low thyroid (Hypothyroidism) may look similar to low Testosterone, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Low libido
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression
  • Cold hands & feet
  • Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)

High thyroid (Hyperthyroidism, Grave’s Disease) is rare, but symptoms you may experience are:

  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Sweating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Bulging eyes
  • Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)

Thyroid Treatment for Men

If you are diagnosed with either Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism and have had trouble conceiving, there is hope! Thyroid hormone replacement therapy can return your thyroid levels to normal, and in most cases the effects on your fertility are reversible with treatment. 

What is Prolactin?

You may have heard the name of this milk-producing hormone in women, but what is prolactin and how does it affect infertility in men? Prolactin (PRL) plays an important role in the endocrine system for both males and females, as it regulates the immune system, influences behavior, and acts on the reproductive system.

In some cases of male infertility, your PRL may be too high (Hyperprolactinemia) which is detrimental to sperm production and quality since its increase kicks off a domino effect that alters the levels of other fertility-friendly hormones like Testosterone, LH, and FSH. Hyperprolactinemia is the cause of infertility in about 11% of men with low sperm counts.

What causes Hyperprolactinemia?

The most common cause of a high prolactin level is a prolactinoma, which is a type of tumor of the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland in your brain regulates hormone production, so any increased pressure from a growing tumor can throw off its normal function. Though a tumor in your brain sounds scary, most pituitary tumors are non-cancerous (benign) and can be treated with medication or surgery to remove them or reduce their size.

Symptoms of prolactinoma are few, and they’re often experienced later in men than women. As the tumor grows, it puts pressure behind the eye, causing vision problems or headaches. You may also experience a decrease in your sex drive.

Other causes of a high PRL level are certain medications you may be taking, low thyroid, kidney disease, liver disease, or hypothalamic disease.

Symptoms of High Prolactin in Men

A high PRL level often does not present any direct symptoms, but because it decreases the production of Testosterone, you may notice symptoms of having low Testosterone like:

  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Low libido
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Enlarged breasts

Can high prolactin levels be treated?

Yes! Prolactin levels can be easily brought back into balance with medication, and the effects of infertility are typically reversed with treatment. If a prolactinoma is the cause of hyperprolactinemia, removing the tumor or reducing its size with medication should return your hormone levels to normal, resulting in typical fertility if you or your partner have no other fertility factors.

Click here to learn more about how hormones affect male infertility.

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