Millions of people have thyroid conditions, and while many men are afflicted with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and autoimmune thyroid conditions, most of the people affected with these conditions are women. Of course many men also have thyroid conditions, and most reading this know that I personally was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease. However, about 85% of the people I consult with for thyroid conditions are women. This includes both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid conditions.
So why are both thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions more common in women? The truth is that it is not known for sure, but there’s an excellent chance that hormones play a big role in this, especially the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which of course are more abundant in women. I’ve spoken in the past about the condition estrogen dominance, which is an imbalance in the hormones estrogen and progesterone, and how this condition is common in many women with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions. Of course not all women have estrogen dominance, so I’m not suggesting that all thyroid conditions are caused by estrogen dominance, because this isn’t true. The truth is that there isn’t a single cause behind all thyroid conditions.
Men Can Develop Estrogen Dominance Too
While estrogen dominance is primarily found in women, men can develop this condition as well. And so there are times when I will recommend a male hormone panel for my male patients to rule out this condition. Usually the symptoms they present with will give me a good idea as to whether someone should obtain this test. Other times it’s not so obvious (or sometimes the problem is that many men won’t put down all of the symptoms they’re experiencing…it’s a guy thing). Sometimes it’s not apparent they have a hormone imbalance until they follow a natural treatment protocol, and then they may hit a roadblock which indicates something else is wrong.
You might wonder how men, as well as women, develop a hormone imbalance. There are different ways these problems can develop. Sometimes exposure to xenoestrogens will lead to estrogen dominance, as eating foods and using products with artificial estrogens can cause this problem. Taking bioidentical hormones can also lead to this condition, potentially causing a progesterone deficiency, also leading to estrogen dominance. Once again, this problem won’t always cause a thyroid condition, but it’s frequently related, which means that any woman or man with a hormone imbalance looking to have their health restored back to normal needs to have this corrected first.
Restoring Thyroid Health: A Comparison Between Men and Women
While it’s always a challenge to restore someone’s thyroid health back to normal (as well as their overall health), in some cases it is easier to accomplish this in men, since they don’t have the same hormonal issues as women. This is especially true when comparing men with cycling women, as with cycling women the sex hormones are always fluctuating. Plus, many cycling women will take oral contraceptives to deal with hormonal issues, which usually makes the problem worse. This isn’t something I need to focus on with men, although I do need to find out whether they are taking or have taken bioidentical hormones such as DHEA or testosterone, as this can lead to a hormone imbalance.
When it comes to using natural treatment methods to restore someone’s health back to normal, whether a woman or a man presents with a thyroid condition really doesn’t matter. Sure, men might be easier to treat in some cases, but then again, there have been some women who responded quicker than some of my male patients. So one really can’t predict how one will respond simply by gender alone. The goal either way will be to evaluate the person, have them obtain certain tests if necessary, and then put them on a protocol based on a combination of their health history and symptoms, along with the results of the tests.
Of course any hormone testing that is recommended will be different, as a woman will need to obtain either a cycling or menopausal hormone test, while a man will need to obtain a male hormone panel. The hormones in these tests will be the same, as both the male and female hormone panels will evaluate the hormones estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA. The panels will also include Androstenedione and Dihydrotestosterone, while an expanded male or female panel will also include the hormones FSH and LH.
In summary, while nobody knows for certain why thyroid conditions are more prominent in women, the reason is probably due to the difference in hormones. While both women and men have the same hormones, they have different levels of them, and since women have greater levels of estrogen and progesterone they are more susceptible to certain hormone imbalances such as estrogen dominance. Of course men can also experience such imbalances as well, which is why regardless of whether a man or a woman presents with a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition, they of course need to be evaluated on an individual basis to find out what might be causing their condition, and then once this is determined I can then put them on the appropriate natural treatment protocol.
Interesting you brought this up. I was just reading an article this week about the same topic. Their answer was that women use chemicals for many more things than men….i.e….makeup, hairspray, dyes, fingernail polich, lotions, perfumes, etc, etc, which are typically hormone mimickers and disrupters. I think she may be on to something there. Just a thought to share with you. Thanks for all you do in the world of medicine!