Dr. David Clark, DC – Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill thyroid expert, explains another way that high Testosterone causes Low Thyroid symptoms.
Hidden Cause #19 why you still have low thyroid symptoms even though you may be taking thyroid medication and even though your lab tests look normal is…
Elevated Testosterone causing low thyroxine binding globulins and too much T4 and T3 leading to resistance.
Let’s pause and take a breath…
The basic problem in this hidden cause is you’ve got too much testosterone…and it’s lowering the amount thyroxine binding gloubins (aka TBG). TBGs are like little taxicabs that carry T4 and T3 around your body. You’ve got to have them.
When there’s too many taxi cabs (TBGs), then the hormones can’t get out of the taxicabs and get into a free-form state. “Free” hormones get into the cells. If the thyroid hormones aren’t free, you can’t use them.
In this hidden cause you have too few taxicabs… you’ve got tons of “free” hormones floating around…and they cause resistance, which leads to MORE low thyroid symptoms.
Think of Resistance like this… you’re growing a plant. The plant likes to have a little bit of water, but it doesn’t like to have a floord of water because you’ll drown it. You’ll kill it.
Well, thyroid hormone receptors are like that. They like to have enough thyroid hormones in order to dock and make them work.
But if you bombard them with lots of thyroid hormones, they shut down and become resistant…
….which means you can have all the T4 and T3 in the world floating around, trying to get onto this receptor, but it can’t.
Or… alternately, the hormones can dock on the receptor, but the response to the docking is blunted.
For comparison, another example of “resistance” is women who take Cytomel® T3 and then become more hypothyroid. You’re bombarding the receptors. There’s too much there and they shut down.
Here’s what high testosterone causing low binding globulins leading to resistance looks like….
A women has totally normal thyroid lab numbers (except maybe her T3 Uptake is >38) but, has these low thyroid symptoms:
- hair loss
- weight gain
- brain fog
- needing to sleep an excessive amount of hours just to function
- high cholesterol
Those are all low thyroid symptoms that can be caused by thyroid hormone resistance–even though your lab numbers look okay.
Of course, this assumes that your doctor is actually running all the numbers you need to look at. If they just run a TSH and T4, they’ll never pick up this problem. It will never show up.
If your doctor also funs free T4, free T3 and T3 uptake, then this might show up.
Your T3 uptake might be outside the lab range…this would mean your binding globulins (taxi cabs) are low, and your “free” hormones are probably high.
High Testosterone is the main cause of low binding globulins (and high “free” hormones leading to resistance)
How would a woman get too much testosterone?
The most common reason is from high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Women that have chronically high blood sugar get surges of insulin in an attempt to get rid of that blood sugar.
That surge of insulin causes them to make more testosterone…and that testosterone is what causes these binding globulins to drop, leading to excess amounts of “free” hormones—>Resistance—>Low thyroid symptoms.
If the doctor doesn’t run all the tests, or get a complete history, he/she may not see the problem.
The doctor would need to actually run the T3 Uptake (and it’s low) and Free T4 and Free T3 (and they’re high)…then understand what it means if those numbers are abnormal (or at least functionally abnormal).
What causes irregular blood sugar?
What you’re eating is a HUGE factor.
If you’re overeating simple carbs (breads, pastas, grains)….
…or you’re eating “crap” food (from a drive-thru or out of a box or bag)
…or drinking sugary drinks (sodas, coffee drinks)
There’s a good chance you’ll end up insulin resistant and have high blood sugar.
Inflammation–from any source– can also make you insulin resistant.
This could be a bacterial infection (like H. Pylori in the stomach)…Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth…food sensitivities…anything that’s inflaming you can lead to this testosterone problem.
If a woman has Low thyroid symptoms + labs look “normal” + she has insulin resistance symtpoms = must consider high testosterone causing low binding globulins leading to resistance.
The Classic insulin resistance symptoms is getting tired/sleepy 15 to 30 minutes after you eat.
Other symptoms of insulin receptor resistance include:
- Crave sweets after you eat.
- Hard time going to sleep
- Wake up in the morning feeling completely beat up as if you didn’t sleep at all.
Those are all pretty good signs of insulin resistance.
If you’re getting sleepy after you eat PLUS you’ve got those low thyroid symptoms, THEN insulin resistance might be the issue here…and testosterone could be causing you to have not enough binding globulins, causing too many “free” hormones, which leads to resistance, which causes low thyroid symptoms.
I know that’s a lot of steps, so it’s really important you find a doctor who knows what I’m talking about. It’s not as simple as running only a TSH and T4, or saying “everybody’s got Hashimoto’s” or “all thyroid patients are iodine deficient! ”
To make this even a little more complicated…
You could really have Hashimoto’s AND this testosterone scenario. Why?
There’s no rule that says you can only have one thing wrong. You have whatever you have…however complicated…howeve simple…
…and you may have Hidden Cause #19: too much testosterone causing too many “free” hormones and resistance.