HomeNewsCan Low Thyroid Affect Menstrual Cycle

Can Low Thyroid Affect Menstrual Cycle

Things You Should Know About Protein Powder And Your Menstrual Cycle

Can Thyroid cause Menstrual Problems? #AsktheDoctor

Whether its soy, hemp or whey, protein powders are a regular part of many womens diets. And while these powders have their benefits, its important that we also discuss the link between protein powder and menstrual cycle irregularities .

You see, just like everything else that we ingest protein powders can affect our hormones.

And since the menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones, that means protein powders can also mess with our periods.

Now, this is not to say that protein powders or shakes are evil. Nor does this mean that theyre the direct cause of period problems.

But they can contribute to menstrual cycle problems .

To understand exactly protein powder can contribute to menstrual issues, were going to look at:

  • whats really in protein powders.
  • their effect on our hormones.
  • which types to buy.
  • how to use them correctly.

Having a clearer understanding of all of the above will allow you to enjoy protein shakes while also supporting your hormones and monthly cycle.

Note: this post contains affiliate links and I earn a commission if you use them to make a purchase.

How Can Thyroid Disorders Effect Your Fertility

Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can each negatively impact fertilityboth the ability to become pregnant and the ability to carry a fetus to term. The presence of autoimmune antibodies, with or without hyper or hypothyroidism, can also impact your fertility.

Dr. Elena Christofides MD, FACE, and Fellow of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, explains that abnormal TSH levels can interfere with ovulation, and that, when you have any type of thyroid disorder , you will see a luteal phase disruption.

This is mediated by progesterone levels. If a thyroid disorder is unregulated, a patient could have difficulty getting pregnant because there will not be implantation. You could also experience early miscarriage because of incomplete implantation.

Signs of low levels or misfunctioning of progesterone include:

  • A shorter or longer cycle than your typical menstrual cycle
  • Lighter or heavier bleeding than is typical for you
  • Longer or shorter windows for bleeding than is typical for you

Fertility is not a female-only concern. Thyroid disorders in men can also affect a couples fertility. Dysregulated thyroid function can damage sperm quality and motility, making it difficult for the sperm to enter the egg for implantation.

When To See The Doctor

A major mistake that most women make is that they often wait for problems to go away on their own and avoid consulting their healthcare provider. When sudden changes in menstrual period and flow occur, it’s a sign that something is wrong, and you should see the doctor in order to determine the cause of these irregularities and prevent potential complications in the future.

If these problems happen frequently, your doctor may want to evaluate thyroid hormone levels. In cases then thyroid conditions are to blame for menstrual irregularities proper management of those diseases could normalize your cycle as well.

You should also see your doctor if you have:

  • Intense or increased menstrual cramps
  • A thyroid condition and treatment, but menstrual irregularities still occur
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding lasting for more than 24 hours
  • Menstrual periods that last seven days or longer
  • Menstrual periods that come in a shorter timeframe than what is considered normal
  • Periods that stopped for about three months or longer and you are not pregnant

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Absent Or Infrequent Menstruation

On the opposite end of the spectrum, absent periods or infrequent periods may occur with hypothyroidism. Infrequent menses are more common.

Amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea can occur from the increase in thyroid releasing hormone in women with hypothyroidism. The high TRH levels trigger the release of prolactin by the pituitary gland .

Prolactin interferes with the production of estrogen from the ovaries, causing infrequent or absent periods, as well as other potential symptoms like infertility, an abnormal milky discharge from the breasts , and symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

Other Causes Of Hyperthyroidism

How Hypothyroidism Affects Fertility

Hyperthyroidism can also result from thyroid nodules. These are lumps that develop inside the thyroid and sometimes begin producing thyroid hormones. Large lumps may create a noticeable goiter. Smaller lumps can be detected with ultrasound. A thyroid uptake and scan can tell if the lump is producing too much thyroid hormone.

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Causes: Pituitary Gland Problems

Thyroid disease may begin in the pituitary gland. The pituitary is located at the base of your brain. It controls the functions of many other glands in the body, including the thyroid. This gland produces TSH, which signals the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones.

If there is a problem with your pituitary and not enough TSH is produced, thyroid problems can result. Inflammation of the thyroid and taking certain medications can also cause low thyroid hormone levels.

Severe Weight Loss Causes Variations In Thyroid Hormone

When the thyroid does not receive the mineral nutrients it needs to make thyroid hormone, the pituitary gland tries to stimulate production anyway by releasing TSH . This form of hypothyroidism isnt really a thyroid problem. Its a nutrient problem. Levels of active thyroid hormone are low, so the person who is dealing with the eating disorder feels cold and sluggish. Regaining weight usually restores thyroid hormone production.

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Role Of Vigorous Exercise

Regardless of the total number of calories you consume each day, exercising vigorously and burning more calories than you eat over time can lead to amenorrhea, or the absence of a period, according to Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Because amenorrhea can cause fertility problems and may be associated with calorie and nutrient deficiencies, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center suggests treating exercise-induced amenorrhea by reducing exercise, making dietary changes, possibly taking oral contraception pills and consuming vitamin D and calcium supplements.

How Many Carbs Should You Eat

How thyroid dysfunction can affect your hormonal health

The optimal amount of dietary carbs varies for each individual.

However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbs make up 4565% of your daily calorie intake .

Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration states that for a 2,000-calorie diet, the Daily Value for carbs is 275 grams per day .

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Guest Post By Dr Lara Briden Nd

The thing I love about periods is the story they tell about health. I am constantly asking my patients about their periodseven if theyve come to me for something else.

For example, my patient Sharon came to me for help with elevated cholesterol. She also reported heavy periods and premenstrual spotting, which I was very interested in. You could have a thyroid problem, I said. She had already had a basic thyroid test with her doctor, and was told it was normal. I ordered further tests, and we found that she did indeed require thyroid hormone. Three months after starting treatment, Sharons cholesterol had improved because thyroid hormone promotes the healthy removal of cholesterol from the blood . Also, Sharons periods had lightened and the premenstrual spotting was also almost gone.

Thyroid hormone affects every cell in the body. Thats why thyroid disease causes a vast array of symptoms including fatigue, elevated cholesterol, hair loss, and dry skin. Thats why thyroid disease affects menstruation.

Menstrual signs of hypothyroidism

  • Irregular periods or lack of periods
  • Premenstrual spotting
  • Early or late menarche

Menstrual signs of hyperthyroidism

  • Irregular periods or lack of periods
  • Light periods

A Moderate Carb Intake May Be Better For Some Women

Certain women may do better consuming a moderate amount of carbs, or around 100150 grams daily.

This includes women who:

  • are very active and struggle to recover after training
  • have an underactive thyroid, despite taking medication
  • struggle to lose weight or start gaining weight, even on a low carb diet
  • have stopped menstruating or are having an irregular cycle
  • have been on a very low carb diet for an extended period of time
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding

For these women, benefits of a moderate-carb diet may include weight loss, improved mood and energy levels, normal menstrual function, and better sleep.

Other women, such as athletes or those trying to gain weight, may find a daily carb intake of more than 150 grams appropriate.


A moderate carb intake may benefit some women, including those who are very active or have menstrual problems.

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How Is Amenorrhea Diagnosed

Diagnosis begins with a medical history and a complete physical exam, including a pelvic exam. Your healthcare provider will want to rule out other menstrual disorders, medical conditions, or medicines that may be causing or aggravating the condition. A diagnosis of amenorrhea means that you miss at least 3 periods in a row, without being pregnant. Young women who havent had their first menstrual period by age 15 should be evaluated promptly. Making an early diagnosis and starting treatment as soon as possible is very important.

Tiredness And Feeling Cold

Thyroid Disease Symptoms  16 Common Symptoms Of Thyroid ...

Tiredness and feeling cold are two more common signs of an underactive thyroid. About 40% of people with an underactive thyroid feel tired, and 50% are more sensitive to cold. These symptoms also seem to get worse as hypothyroidism worsens.

When your thyroid levels are low, your energy levels decrease, and your metabolism slows down this results in feeling tired and cold. So if youve recently been feeling more tired and find yourself chillier than normal, you may want to have your thyroid checked.

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Estrogen Tends To Get All The Attention But Balanced Thyroid Hormones Are Equally Important For Conception

With Elena Christofides MD and David Unuane MD PhD

Thyroid hormone imbalances can affect both female and male fertility, making it difficult for the sperm to enter the egg for implantation.

Your thyroid gland is the butterfly-shaped organ in the front of your neck that produces hormones that regulate your bodys metabolism and affect vital functions. Fertility refers to a couples ability to conceive and bring a baby to term. The relationship between your thyroid health and fertility is an important and sometimes complex part of conception.

Vitamin B12 And Menstrual Cycles

Each month, women typically lose about a third of a cup of blood during the menstrual cycle. However, it’s possible to have far less blood loss or far more even an entire cup’s worth. During and after a menstrual cycle, women’s bodies have to create new red blood cells. Several vitamins and minerals help with this, particularly vitamin B12, folic acid and iron. These nutrients are especially important for women who experience heavy periods.

Besides helping to produce new red blood cells, vitamin B12, in combination with omega-3-rich fish oil supplements, can actually help women who are experiencing symptoms of menstrual discomfort, or dysmenorrhea.

Read More:How Much Vitamin B12 Should a Woman Get?

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Hypothyroidism Can Make Periods Heavy Absent Or Irregular

Hypothyroidism can put the brakes on ovulation a phenomenon known as anovulation resulting in heavy periods. In some women with uncontrolled hypothyroidism, this anovulation can lead to disordered growth and shedding of the uterine lining, causing unpredictable bouts of heavy bleeding from the uterus, says Jessica Spencer, MD, an associate professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. This can be monthly in some women and far apart in others.

Changes in prolactin levels can lead to thinning of the uterine lining and changes in how the pituitary gland controls the ovaries both can result in periods stopping completely, says Dr. Spencer.

Hypothyroidism can also change coagulation factors, increasing the risk of heavy bleeding.

Women of reproductive age with hypothyroidism may experience heavy periods, absent periods, or irregular periods, says McConnell, and the symptoms of menstrual irregularities will depend on the severity of the hypothyroidism.

Menstrual irregularities tend to be more common in women with severe hypothyroidism compared to mild hypothyroidism, says McConnell.

Keep Up With Thyroid Monitoring & Testing

Thyroid Issues Affect Female Fertility

Dont ignore a potential thyroid problem while working on your fertility. Your bodys metabolism and reproductive function are dependent on it.

If youre unsure where you stand, here are symptoms of low thyroid to watch for:

muscle weakness and more

If you have symptoms like this, ask your doctor or reproductive endocrinologist about thyroid testing. Having a full thyroid panel, including Free T3, Free T4, TSH, thyroid antibodies and Reverse T3 can provide a lot of information on your thyroid gland health and function.

If you have a known thyroid challenge, pay attention to how youre feeling and reach out to your doctor if you need monitoring or a medication adjustment before trying to conceive. For many women, regulating thyroid activity can solve menstrual cycle problems, restore natural fertility and improve chances for a healthy pregnancy.

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When To Talk To Your Doctor About Your Periods

If your periods are out of whack, you need to find the cause so you can treat it.

Left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to other complications, such as anemia, low body temperature, and heart disease.

There could also be something else going on altogether.

Hypothyroidism is only one potential cause of menstrual irregularities, says McConnell. There are many causes of menstrual irregularities, such as polycystic ovary syndrome , uterine fibroids, infections, and uterine cancer.

If you have menstrual irregularities, you should seek medical attention if your flow is heavy for more than 24 hours, your periods are more frequent than 21 days, or your periods stopped for more than three months , says McConnell.

Your medical provider can perform blood tests to check your levels of various hormones. In hypothyroidism, your TSH level will be elevated and your free thyroid hormone levels will be low.

In some cases, your doctor might recommend a pelvic ultrasound to check for uterine fibroids, polyps, and ovarian cysts, says Spencer. Depending on the examination and history, further testing may also be warranted to assess for PCOS, another common cause of irregular cycles, says Spencer. An endometrial biopsy is sometimes recommended as well to assess for precancerous tissue inside the uterus this is especially important in women who are obese or have diabetes or hypertension.

Signs You Might Have A Thyroid Problem

When your thyroid stops working as it should, you can experience a variety of symptoms that might seem unrelated or even odd. From chills and brain fog to thinning hair and weight gain, if your thyroid isnt functioning well, you may be experiencing symptoms that are subtle and hard to characterize.

Women are more likely to experience issues with their thyroid, but anyone can suffer thyroid problems. Recognizing the symptoms of an overactive or underactive thyroid is the best way to get the treatment you need.

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How Hypothyroidism Affects The Menstrual Cycle

While the link between menstrual cycle problems and thyroid activity is not totally understood, hypothyroidism is known to affect the menstrual cycle in various ways:

  • Thyroid problems go hand in hand with an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone levels, which contributes to menstrual cycle irregularities and many fertility health issues.
  • Low thyroid can increase the risk for adrenal problems and luteal phase defect .
  • An underactive thyroid can increase insulin sensitivity and risk for PCOS, a major cause of anovulation and irregular cycles.
  • Thyroid problems disrupt metabolism and decrease cellular energy, potentially affecting the ability of ovaries to ovulate normally.
  • Hypothyroidism can cause prolactin levels to rise, which may suppress ovulation or decrease chances of conception.

While not all menstrual cycle problems are traced back to hypothyroidism, here are examples of menstrual problems that could be related to a low or under-functioning thyroid gland:

  • Long periods or short cycles
  • Heavy periods with flooding
  • Painful periods
  • polymenorrhea
  • early puberty in young girls

A Note on Hyperthyroidism and Graves disease: Addressing Hyperthyroidism is important to fertility health, too. An overactive thyroid may lead to a short menstrual cycle , irregular cycles, light cycles or cycles that are far apart. Further, as with hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism can increase pregnancy risks.

How Does Thyroid Disease Affect Pregnancy

Birth control pills can affect your Thyroid

Pregnancy-related hormones raise the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. Thyroid hormones are necessary for the baby’s brain development while in the womb.

It can be harder to diagnose thyroid problems during pregnancy because of the change in hormone levels that normally happen during pregnancy. But it is especially important to check for problems before getting pregnant and during pregnancy. Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause problems for both mother and baby.

Hyperthyroidism that is not treated with medicine during pregnancy can cause:

  • Premature birth
  • a serious condition starting after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Preeclampsia causes high blood pressure and problems with the kidneys and other organs. The only cure for preeclampsia is childbirth.
  • Thyroid storm
  • Fast heart rate in the newborn, which can lead to heart failure, poor weight gain, or an enlarged thyroid that can make it hard to breathe
  • Low birth weight
  • Miscarriage

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The Severity Of An Eating Disorder Has More To Do With Hormone Levels Than With Weight

Two hormones levels can predict how difficult it will be to recover from anorexia or bulimia. One of these hormones is the stress hormone cortisol. The higher the cortisol level, the more severe the eating disorder, regardless of BMI. The other hormone that predicts the severity of an eating disorder is peptide YY, also known as PYY and peptide tyrosine tyrosine . PYY is a hormone secreted by the digestive system shortly after we begin to eat that tells our brains that we are getting full. In eating disorders, there is a greater release of PYY and the brain gets a stronger message that one has eaten enough.


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