PCOS and hypothyroidism: what’s the connection?
Dr. Anish Musa
Dr. Anish MusaMay 28, 2021

Have you ever been told that conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid have no cure? A common myth is that you have to just take tablets for the rest of your life. However, functional medicine seems like the light at the end of the tunnel.

PCOS and hypothyroidism are the most common endocrine disorders seen in Indian women. Most PCOS patients develop hypothyroidism and show symptoms that are common to both diseases. Why does this happen? Hypothyroidism link to PCOS

This blog will help you understand the relationship between both disorders and PCOS and hypothyroidism treatment with functional medicine.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is an inflammatory condition that affects your hormones and menstrual cycle.

The ovaries produce various hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and androgens. Women with PCOS have an imbalance of many such hormones.

The exact cause of PCOS is still known, but factors like high-level insulin, high level of androgens, or heredity might play a role. Join Thyroid Community/

The characteristic symptoms of PCOS are:

  • Cysts in the ovaries
  • Irregular, missed, or painful periods
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Excessive hair on the face, chin, breasts, back, etc.
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Acne (Face, upper back, or chest)

If you suffer from PCOS, you are not the only one. The prevalence of PCOS in India ranges from 3.7 to 22.5%.

What is hypothyroidism?

The thyroid gland located at the base of the neck affects bodily functions such as weight, body temperature, etc. When the thyroid secretes inadequate hormones it is known as hypothyroidism. Thyroid dysfunction can occur due to several reasons- Hashimoto thyroiditis being one. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid glands and causes inflammation. It is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.

Checkout the common symptoms of hypothyroidism here - Hypothyroidism Guide: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Medication

The bidirectional relationship between PCOS and Thyroid

PCOS and thyroid conditions have a bidirectional relationship between them. However, the exact link between them is still being explored.

Research states that women with PCOS are three times more likely to suffer from Hashimoto’s thyroid disease.

Your body makes antibodies that attack the thyroid gland by mistake and cause inflammation. The ovaries' exposure to such antibodies can lead to ovarian destruction and infertility.

Polycystic ovaries can be considered a symptom of hypothyroidism. That is why most thyroid doctors and functional medicine experts rule out the disease by asking you to do tests. PCOS and HT patients need to be observed regularly to plan treatment.

PCOS and hypothyroidism conditions also share common symptoms, such as period irregularities, increased insulin resistance, mood disturbance, weight gain, and dysregulation of the immune system.

How can you treat PCOS and hypothyroidism with functional medicine?

The functional medicine approach is usually based on identifying the disease's root cause and treating it to improve overall health.

For PCOS and hypothyroidism treatment, it is crucial to look into the cause of the disease like inflammation, insulin resistance, leaky gut, increased cortisol levels, etc. rather than suppressing the symptoms.

Here are a few functional approaches beneficial for PCOS and hypothyroidism treatment.

Improve your gut health

Hypothyroidism or not, the gut plays a vital role in balancing your hormones and maintaining a healthy environment for the growth of gut bacteria. So, improving your gut health can help reverse both disorders.

List of foods to build your gut health:

  • Eat fiber rich food such as fruits, beans, etc
  • Limit gut irritants such as caffeine and alcohol
  • Include probiotics such as Sauerkraut, Kimchi etc.

Balance your lifestyle

Suppose someone asks you how your day is going. What would you say? You might say you’re stressed, busy, overworked, exhausted, or just list out everything that you have to do. In this dily grind, a balanced lifestyle takes the backseat.

However, your thyroid and PCOS treatment won’t work until you change this pattern. Here’s what you can do instead:

  • Daily yoga, meditation, or mild exercise to reduce stress.
  • A restful nights sleep of 6-8 hours regularly
  • Avoid vigorous exercise and binge eating.

Maintaining Healthy Weight

Weight gain is common in hypothyroidism and PCOS. Around 90% of people googled "how to lose weight with hypothyroidism?".

But do you really feel Google is the best place to get advice for your precious health? Trust the advice of trained experts instead who can provide personalised weight loss diet plans to give you real results.

Keep an eye on blood sugar levels

Insulin is a hormone that regulates the blood sugar level. Body cells do not properly respond to insulin in insulin resistance which is a part of PCOS. This means higher blood sugar levels and weight gain.

Besides, several studies have concluded that increased insulin levels affect thyroid hormone production. This means that controlling blood sugar and insulin levels is a major concern for patients.

What can we do balance blood sugar levels:

  1. Follow a high-fiber, protein-rich diet with good fats.
  2. Avoid eating processed and sugarladen like sweets, soda, pastries, etc.

Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet

We all know PCOS and thyroid are inflammatory conditions. It is crucial to follow an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce inflammation.

You can include the following in your anti-inflammatory diet:

  • Fishes like tuna and salmon
  • Vegetables, like spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, and kale
  • Fruits, such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, oranges, and cherries
  • Nuts (almonds and walnuts) and seeds
  • Beans
  • High-fiber
  • Olives and olive oil

Seek medical help to treat these disorders

According to a study conducted by Jeevam Health, 79% of people have symptoms even taking hypothyroidism and PCOS medications. This means that conventional medicine alone is not enough.

This is where functional medicine comes in. A functional medicine approach is a more comprehensive and holistic form of treatment that includes medication and lifestyle changes.

Conclusion

PCOS and hypothyroidism can be seen together and that can be frustrating for patients. However, you can feel healthy, happy, and stress-free with the right treatment plan. Adopting a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet, exercise, good sleep, and relaxation practices can help you.

So get in touch with a functional medicine doctor to get started on your treatment and reverse the damage done. Want personalized treatment and to say goodbye to your worries? Reach out to us.

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