High androgen levels protect against hypothyroidism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: Hypothyroidism is a common disorder, appearing mainly in women although less frequently found in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The objective was to test the hypothesis that hyperandrogenism might protect against hypothyroidism. Material and methods: The data from three prospective follow-up studies (up to 21 years) and one register study were compared: women with PCOS (Rotterdam criteria), n = 25, women with Turner syndrome, n = 217, a random population sample of women, n = 315, and men, n = 95 (the WHO MONICA study). Findings were to be verified or rejected in all females, n = 553 716, from the same region. The proportion of hypothyroidism was calculated and thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO) in serum were measured. Results: Hypothyroidism at >50 years of age was found in 8% of women with PCOS, 4% in men (PCOS vs. men; ns), 43% of women with Turner syndrome, irrespective of karyotype (p < 0.001 vs. PCOS), and in 17% of postmenopausal women in the population (p < 0.01 vs. PCOS). Elevated TPO were similar in PCOS and women and men in the population but higher in Turner syndrome. Hypothyroidism increased with age in all groups except PCOS women and men. In the register study, hypothyroidism was less common in women with PCOS >25 years (5.5%) than in women without PCOS (6.8%) from the same region (p < 0.01). Conclusions: Hypothyroidism was less frequently seen in women with PCOS and in men compared with women in the general population and among women with Turner syndrome. This was not explained by altered autoimmunity or the Y-chromosome. Androgens seem to protect against hypothyroidism.


  • Johanna Schmidt
  • Eva Dahlgren
  • Inger Bryman
  • Kerstin Berntorp
  • Penelope Trimpou
  • Lars Wilhelmsen
  • Kerstin Landin-Wilhelmsen
External organisations
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Sahlgrenska Academy
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine


  • Androgens, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, Turner syndrome
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch