What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Problems in WOMEN?
It may not suprise you to know that men and women can be different when it comes to symptoms of a Thyroid issue. It can definitely look different in men and women. let’s talk about what it looks like for women…
I talk often about the signs of an underactive thyroid. They include:
Those are signs that are both men and women can see. But, there are also some conditions that will only apply to women. These include:
You read that right: Your Thyroid can affect your menstrual cycle and even your fertility. Let’s talk a bit more about that. A decrease in Thyroid hormones and increase Prolactin levels, affect Luteinizing Hormone levels, cause of a loss of Progesterone Receptor Site sensitivity and decrease sensitivity to Follicle Stimulating Hormone. All of those changes can create problems with ovulation. If ovulation does not occur, pregnancy can not occur. In addition, these changes can mess up the communication with the pituitary gland. The Gland in charge of most of our hormones. Translation: Having low levels of Thyroid hormone can affect hormone levels which can lead to irregular menstual cycles and possibly infertility.
So, We have discussed menstrual issues and infertility. Let’s shift and talk about Pregnancy. Many of the women I speak with tell me that they noticed their Thyroid symptoms or were diagnosed with Thyroid disease, such as Hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s shortly after the birth of a child. Why is that? While you are pregnant, you reguire higher levels of Thyroid hormone. If you were struggling a bit to make enough Thyroid hormone before pregnancy, this can push you over the edge. While you are pregnant, you also have an increased level of Progesterone. This hormone is anti-inflammatory and helps keep autoimmunity in check via inhibition of the T Helper type 1 pathway. (1) Since 90% of Hypothyroidism is the Autoimmune variety called Hashimoto’s, that would explain why some women feel better while they are pregnant. After the birth of your child, however, progesterone levels fall drastically (this is also why you hair may fall out – lucky you!). When this happens, you start to feel the affects of the breakdown of your Thyroid gland again. This is also when many women discover they have a Thyroid issue for the first time. The fluctuation in hormones and stress of pregnancy trigger an issue that was not yet at a boiling point. Once that stress and all of the hormonal changes take place, the symptoms show up.
Thyroid conditions are so common, that the American Thyroid Association now recommends that all women over the age of 35 get screened for Thyroid issues and continue to monitor with testing every 5 years. (2) Their recommendation is to use a TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test as a screening tool. I agree that we need to be screening women, but my training in Functional Medicine has me adding that a simple TSH screen is not enough. TSH is the tip of the Thyroid iceburg, and the standard references ranges differ from those taught in Functional Medicine. That means that we are only looking at one piece of the puzzle and not even looking at it properly if we only screen for TSH. Below is a picture of a “typical” analysis and the type I do.
I speak to many women who had a TSH screen come back “Normal”, but when we run the more comprehensive screen, we find that they actually have a Thyroid issue that just hasn’t changed the TSH value yet. That means we have more time to help and get better results.
As you can see, women can be affected in specific ways when it comes to their Thyroid. It can have a big impact on so many areas of life and on how you feel overall. I wanted to take a bit of time and write about how women are affected specifically since I see so many women struggle with this issue. I am on a mission to help as many as I can reclaim the health they deserve!
To your health,
This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all health care concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a health care professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.