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Can Thyroid Issues Cause Menstrual Problems

Is This The Reason Your Period Is Irregular

Can Thyroid cause Menstrual Problems? #AsktheDoctor

No matter when you joined the period club, you know the joys of tender breasts, sleep disturbance, weird bowel movements, inconvenient acne, and all of the feels. Theoretically, it happens every monthright?

Well, maybe not.

Menstruation is often overlooked as a tool to tell us about the state of our health. Super long cycles, light or heavy bleeding, skipped periods, or strange colors can give us useful information about our overall health.

Weight Loss And Eating Disorders

Women who are underweight, have recently lost a significant amount of weight without trying, or have an eating disorder may find that their period stops entirely despite not being pregnant. This is because consuming insufficient calories interferes with the production of hormones your body needs to ovulate. Addressing eating disorders and reaching a healthier weight can alleviate these problems.

What Are The Most Common Menstrual Problems

The normal menstrual cycle ranges from 21 to 35 days, but it is not uncommon for women to experience problems that disturb this cycle.

When the term menstrual problem comes to mind, we immediately think of late or missed periods, but multiple issues can affect your periods.

The most common menstrual irregularities include:

  • Absent menstrual periods Occurs when a girl doesnt get her period by the age of 16 or when an adult woman stops getting her periods for at least three months but shes not pregnant
  • Infrequent menstrual periods Periods occurring more than 35 days apart
  • Heavy menstrual periods Excessive bleeding
  • Prolonged menstrual bleeding Periods that last longer than eight days
  • Painful periods Severe menstrual cramps

Besides the above-mentioned irregularities, women can also experience:

  • Frequent menstrual periods Having periods less than 21 days apart
  • Shortened menstrual bleeding Periods lasting two days or shorter
  • Intermenstrual bleeding Or spotting i.e., episodes of bleeding that occur between two periods
  • Irregular menstrual periods with cycle to cycle variation of 20 days or more

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More Info About Hyperthyroidism And Menstrual Problems

Studies have connected hyperthyroidism with menstrual irregularities as well. These are the problems that may occur when hypothyroidism is undiagnosed or improperly managed:

  • Delayed puberty or late menstruation Unlike hypothyroidism, which causes early onset of the first period hyperthyroidism can delay the start of puberty. Girls with hyperthyroidism may get their first period at 15 or older
  • Light menstrual periods Hyperthyroid women tend to have periods that are lighter than normal
  • Shorter menstrual periods While hypothyroidism can prolong your periods, hyperthyroidism can shorten them. Bear in mind that a short period isnt automatically better
  • Sporadic menstrual periods Hyperthyroid women may find that their periods dont occur at a normal rate. They may have a period one month and a pause of month or two before the next period
  • Absent menstrual periods Besides sporadic menstruations, women with hyperthyroidism may experience a complete absence of their periods for a certain period of time

How To Treat Thyroid Problems

Thyroid and infertility in women

Now that you know more about the problems that indicate thyroid problems, what should you do? Of course, the first thing you should do is ask your doctor about your symptoms. Depending on your symptoms, you may have another condition that needs to be treated.

However, if you are experiencing several of these symptoms at a time, you most likely have a thyroid condition.

Before you start receiving treatments, first youll need to work with your doctor to get tested. Typically this will include blood tests to check the levels of T4 and T3 in your blood. When the tests come back, your doctor will help you know that to do next.

Usually, treatments include hormone replacement therapy. Iodine supplements may be prescribed in order to treat goiters.

However, if your symptoms are severe, it can be a sign of thyroid cancer. In which case youll need to visit a thyroid surgeon to remove the cancerous cells. Chemotherapy and radiation oncology are also viable options.

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Muscle And Joint Pain

Unexplained aches and pains in the muscles and joints, and a general feeling of weakness in the arms and legs, can all be symptoms of undiagnosed thyroid problems like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Underactive thyroid can cause general muscle weakness and pain, including cramps and stiffness. It can also cause general joint pain and contribute to tendonitis in the arms and legs, carpal tunnel syndrome and tarsal tunnel syndrome. All these symptoms can indicate hypothyroidism.

On the other hand, an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism may cause muscle weakness and fatigue that may make it difficult to climb stairs, hold objects in your hands and reach your arms above your head.

If you one or more of these symptoms and signs, you may be suffering from an overactive or underactive thyroid condition. Plus, if you have a close family relative who has a thyroid problem, you have a higher risk of having thyroid problems down the road.


Thyroid And The Menstrual Cycle

Its estimated that as many as 59 million Americans have a thyroid problem, but the majority of these individuals dont realize it.

Undiagnosed thyroid problems can dramatically increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, depression, anxiety, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, infertility and a host of other symptoms and health problems.

Low thyroids affect your weight, mood and energy level

The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, is the master gland of metabolism. An underactive thyroid slows down metabolism, which can make you gain weight, feel tired or depressed.

Thyroid problems affect your menstrual cycles

It can also affect your menstrual cycles, particularly the length of your cycle, the amount of bleeding, or the frequency of your cycles.

Generally speaking, heavier, more frequent and more painful periods are frequently associated with hypothyroidism and shorter, lighter or infrequent menstruation can be associated with hyperthyroidism.

Low thyroid is a common cause of progesterone deficiency

In addition, body needs adequate thyroid hormone to produce pregnenolone from cholesterol, which then makes progesterone.

So if you have an underperforming thyroid, your body may fail to make sufficient progesterone, producing various signs of progesterone deficiency, including irregular periods and infertility.

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Talk To Your Doctor About Menstrual Disorders

Menstrual disorders can be caused by a range of issues, many of which can be corrected with medical treatment. If you are experiencing a sudden change in your cycle, spotting between periods, excessive bleeding, or your period stops for more than three months and you are not pregnant, it is important to contact your doctor right away.

Sudden Change In Body Weight

Is thyroid disease the cause for infertility and menstrual problems? – Dr. Ambika V

Unexplained weight gain and even weight loss can be a warning sign of a thyroid disorder. Weight gain even after following a strict diet and rigorous exercise plan may indicate low levels of thyroid hormones or hypothyroidism.

In contrast, if the thyroid produces more hormones than the body needs, you may experience sudden weight loss.

If you have unexplained weight changes, get your thyroid checked.

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Can I Check My Thyroid At Home

You can do a quick and easy self-exam of your thyroid at home. The only tools you need to do this self-exam are a mirror and a glass of water.

To do the thyroid self-exam, follow these steps:

  • Start by identifying where your thyroid is located. Generally, youll find the thyroid on the front of your neck, between your collar bone and Adams apple. In men, the Adams apple is much easier to see. For women, its usually easiest to look from the collar bone up.
  • Tip your head back while looking in a mirror. Look at your neck and try to hone in on the space you will be looking once you start the exam.
  • Once youre ready, take a drink of water while your head is tilted back. Watch your thyroid as you swallow. During this test, youre looking for lumps or bumps. You may be able to see them when you swallow the water.

Repeat this test a few times to get a good look at your thyroid. If you see any lumps or bumps, reach out to your healthcare provider.

When To Call A Doctor

In most cases, problems with your thyroid arent an emergency. If you feel you have some of the symptoms above, you can simply make an appointment with your doctor to discuss testing and treatment options. However, you should call your doctor immediately if:

  • Youre very drowsy, cold, and lethargic. This could be the start of a myxedema coma, which is caused by hypothyroidism that eventually leads to unconsciousness and in some cases death.
  • You have a rapid pulse, accompanied by a fever, agitation, or delirium. This can indicate thyrotoxic crisis, a complication of hyperthyroidism.

Its not always easy to know if you have a problem with your thyroid. Knowing some of the common symptoms of an underactive or overactive thyroid will help give you an idea of you need to talk to your doctor.

Talk with your primary care provider about testing and treatment of thyroid issues. They may refer you to an endocrinologist or thyroid specialist for follow-up care.

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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.

How Thyroid Affects Periods

Can Thyroid cause Menstrual Problems? #AsktheDoctor

There are numerous mechanisms by which thyroid hormone affects menstruation.

Thyroid disease causes failure to ovulate with resulting progesterone deficiency. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism disturb pituitary hormones . Hypothyroidism deprives the ovarian follicles of the thyroid hormone they need to develop .

Hypothyroidism impairs insulin sensitivity, which is one reason thyroid disease is associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome .

Hypothyroidism reducessex hormone binding globulin , which causes greater estrogen exposure and therefore heavy periods. In contrast, hyperthyroidism increases SHBG which causes light periods.

Hypothyroidism impairs the healthy detoxificationof estrogen, which causes greater estrogen exposure and therefore heavy periods.

Hypothyroidism decreases coagulationfactors, which causes heavy periods. In contrast, hyperthyroidism increases coagulation factors, which causes light periods .

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What To Do If You Suspect Thyroid Dysfunction

If you have irregular periods and are experiencing any of the symptoms on our hypothyroidism symptoms checklist, you might have a thyroid problem.

When you think about all the different effects a sluggish or overactive thyroid can have not just on your periods, but on every system in your body its worth the effort to work with a trusted healthcare provider to identify and correct any imbalances in your thyroid.

Many natural therapies help restore hormonal balance Get started with our article Five steps for natural thyroid symptom relief.

Davis J, Segars J. Menstruation and Menstrual Disorders: Anovulation. Global Library of Womens Medicine, 2009. DOI 10.3843/GLOWM.10296

Jacobson MH, Howards PP, Darrow LA, Meadows JA, Kesner JS, Spencer JB, Terrell ML,Marcus M. Thyroid hormones and menstrual cycle function in a longitudinal cohort of premenopausal women. Paediatr. Perinatal Epidemiol. 2018 32: 225-234.

Jefferys A, Vanderpump M, Yasmin E. Thyroid dysfunction and reproductive health. Obstet. Gynaecol. 2015 17: 39-45.

Krassas GE, Poppe K, Glinoer D. Thyroid function and human reproductive health. Endocr. Rev. 2010 31: 702-755.

Walter KN, Corwin EJ, Ulbrecht J, Demers LM, Bennett JB, Whetzel CA, Klein LC. Elevated thyroid stimulating hormone is associated with elevated cortisol in healthy young men and women. Thyroid Res. 2012 5: 13.

How Is Thyroid Disease Diagnosed

Sometimes, thyroid disease can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are easily confused with those of other conditions. You may experience similar symptoms when you are pregnant or aging and you would when developing a thyroid disease. Fortunately, there are tests that can help determine if your symptoms are being caused by a thyroid issue. These tests include:

  • Blood tests.
  • Physical exams.

Blood tests

One of the most definitive ways to diagnose a thyroid problem is through blood tests. Thyroid blood tests are used to tell if your thyroid gland is functioning properly by measuring the amount of thyroid hormones in your blood. These tests are done by taking blood from a vein in your arm. Thyroid blood tests are used to see if you have:

  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Hypothyroidism.

The specific blood tests that will be done to test your thyroid can include:

These tests alone arent meant to diagnose any illness but may prompt your healthcare provider to do additional testing to evaluate for a possible thyroid disorder.

Additional blood tests might include:

Talk to your healthcare provider about the ranges for these thyroid blood tests. Your ranges might not be the same as someone elses. Thats often alright. If you have any concerns or worries about your blood test results, talk to your provider.

Imaging tests

An ultrasound typically takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

Physical exam

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An Increase In Prolactin

Hypothyroidism causes an increase in the levels of thyroid-releasing hormone , which in turn stimulates the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone and prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. Often referred to as the milk hormone, its job is to support ovulation, reproduction, immunity, blood cell formation, and above all, stimulate breast milk production.

Too much prolactin can interfere with the normal production of other hormones like estrogen and progesterone. This interference can change or stop ovulation and can lead to irregular or skipped periods.

Tiredness And Feeling Cold

The ABCs of Thyroid Problems – PAINFUL PERIODS

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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How Is Postpartum Thyroiditis Treated

Treatment for postpartum thyroiditis depends on the phase of the disease and what symptoms you have. For example, if you get symptoms of hyperthyroidism in the first phase, your treatment may include medicines to slow down the heart rate.

In most women who have postpartum thyroiditis, the thyroid returns to normal within 12 to 18 months after symptoms start. But if you have a history of postpartum thyroiditis, your risk is higher for developing permanent hypothyroidism within 5 to 10 years.

When To Contact Your Doctor

If youve checked off signs and are not feeling yourself, discuss this with your primary care doctor. These signs dont necessarily mean that you have thyroid disease. By asking you about your symptoms, your doctor can decide whether you need a blood test to check for thyroid disease.

Have a skin, hair, or nail problem?

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ImagesImage 1: Getty ImagesImages 2, 3, 4: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003 Jun 48:970-2.

ReferencesAi J, Leonhardt JM, et al. Autoimmune thyroid diseases: etiology, pathogenesis, and dermatologic manifestations. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003 48:641-59.

Anderson CK, Miller OF. Triad of exophthalmos, pretibial myxedema, and acropachy in a patient with Graves’ disease. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003 48:970-2.

Bae JM, Lee JH, et al. Vitiligo and overt thyroid diseases: A nationwide population-based study in Korea. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 76:871-8.

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Women In Their 40s And Early 50s:

In the years before menopause, women have months when they don’t ovulate. This can cause abnormal uterine bleeding. Thickening of the lining of the uterus is another cause of bleeding in women in their 40s. This thickening can be a warning of uterine cancer. In women in their 40s and early 50s, it’s important to make sure uterine cancer isn’t the cause of abnormal bleeding.

Why Do I Get Bleeding During My Mid Cycle

All You Need To Know About Thyroid Disorders: Symptoms ...

Sharp estrogen fluctuations could cause local bleeding in endometrium . In 85-90% cases mid cycle cramping and bleeding occurs because of ovulation and it should not be a subject for concern.

You may also check other symptoms of hypothyroidism, to be sure that your constant spotting is caused by low thyroid functions, not by some other cause. Other common symptoms of hypothyroidism are: fatigue, weakness, poor circulation and low body temperature, dry and itchy skin, lack of sweating and so on.

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Be Part Of The Revolution

I hope this article gives you deeper insight into the importance of thyroid health for menstrual cycle health, the confidence that you can get the thyroid answers you need from proper testing, and the tools to get started on rebalancing your cycle by taking care of your thyroid. Taking care of our health and getting the answers we might not always get from our doctors is a revolutionary act!

Want to take a deeper dive into thyroid health? Grab your copy of my book, The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution where you’ll also learn how thyroid affects libido, menopause, and much more, and you’ll find a complete 5 step pathway to the foods, nutrients, gut, liver, and adrenal support for your thyroid health, as well as more on testing and best thyroid medications.


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