Thyroid Eye Disease and Sexual Health
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: October 2021 | Last updated: May 2023
Thyroid eye disease (TED) can have an impact on sexual health. The stigma of the disease and the appearance of the symptoms contribute to this. Plus, an intimate partner may have a wide range of emotions when learning about the diagnosis of their loved one. Partners can be worried about some of the same things as the person with the disease but may also have different concerns.
Everyone is different, and relationships vary from person to person. However, a chronic disease like TED can place further strains on relationships. Recognizing these hurdles can help you manage them before you get to them to navigate them alongside your partner better.
A diagnosis of TED does not mean the end to your intimacy or sexual relationships. You may need to change your approach or routine and try new things – but that is not a bad thing! Despite the challenges, you and your partner can find the groove with help from these tips and reminders.
Manage your symptoms
Thyroid dysfunction can lead to problems with sex drive. A low-functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause low libido, vaginal dryness, and even erectile dysfunction if severe. Although many people with TED have overactive thyroid function (hyperthyroidism), low thyroid function can also occur.1,2
Managing your symptoms and controlling your thyroid levels are important. Talk to your doctor and TED specialist about the best treatments for you. Have open conversations with your doctors about your symptoms, including any sexual dysfunction symptoms you may be having. These can be a sign your thyroid levels need to be checked.1
Be open and honest with your partner about TED. Let your partner know how you feel, even when you may not want to. Your partner loves you and wants to learn more about what is going on, including your symptoms.
Be an advocate for yourself, and ask your partner to be yours as well. Become informed about TED, how it is managed, and all your treatment options. Discuss these with your partner. Let your partner weigh in on the risks and benefits of treatment choices as well.
Try to give your partner tasks and ways they can help. For example, driving you to your appointments, picking up groceries, or running other errands can help you out and allow your partner to feel like they are helping you in a meaningful way.
Stay active and live a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy weight is helpful to avoid complications like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and blood vessel problems. These lead to sexual issues, but they are also the leading cause of heart problems. Stay active and eat a healthy diet with a wide variety of foods. Talk to your doctor before starting a diet or exercise program to ensure it is right for you.3
Be willing to try new things
Intimacy can be more than sex. If your relationship with your partner has changed, having an open and honest conversation is best. Experiment with new positions if your routine positions cause you pain or make you self-conscious about your appearance. New positions, setting the mood, and being creative might be the fun and excitement you and your partner need to feel at your best.
Remember, intimacy means many things. Be open and honest with yourself and your partner about TED, its symptoms, your treatments, and your needs. Then, you can enjoy a pleasurable and satisfying sexual relationship while managing the daily symptoms of TED.