PCOS and hypothyroidism are two of the most common endocrine disorders affecting women. The overlapping symptoms and the lack of diagnosing criteria of PCOS and hypothyroidism together have led the thyroid experts to misdiagnose both disorders.
But do you know that most people confuse between them and assume it to be interconnected?
While several overlapping characteristics and symptoms exist between underactive thyroid and PCOS, several controversies vote for the latter.
PCOS and Hypothyroidism are two of the most common endocrine disorders, making it hard for thyroid doctors and gynecologists to diagnose them-- but are they interlinked? What is the diagnosing factor, and what markers separate them?
This article will cover the similarities and differences between hypothyroidism and PCOS and include markers that can help you aid the difference between the two.
How are hypothyroidism and PCOS related?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS - which affects half of the female population in India- can be pretty complicated to diagnose. Many doctors and non-specialists misdiagnose it as a thyroid condition. But why do most thyroid specialists mistake them? Researchers believe that the lack of diagnostic criteria is one of the reasons.
And frankly speaking -- it's not surprising as the two diseases are quite similar. Many women who are diagnosed with PCOS also have an underlying thyroid condition. Studies prove that over 22 percent of women have PCOS and hypothyroidism even after undergoing PCOS treatment.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease where the body counteracts against its defense systems. Specifically, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is often diagnosed in women with PCOS compared to the average population.
And this leads to more questions that need to be addressed. Let's say-- are the disorders caused by the same factors? Or can treatment of one cure the other condition? And can hypothyroidism cause PCOS?
Can thyroid cause PCOS?
Thyroid disorders - especially hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid - can lead to drastic effects on the ovaries. Hypothyroidism causes the thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH and prolactin levels to rise in women- while the levels of prolactin raise luteinizing hormone levels, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
The increased hormone levels lead to cysts in the ovaries. Studies show that PCOS symptoms are pretty evident in women with hypothyroidism. Does that mean PCOS and hypothyroidism together can be treated with medicines?
On the other hand, women with PCOS have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism too. Although doctors are not sure if PCOS leads to thyroid or vice versa, they believe it to be linked. Thyroid weight gain-- common in both PCOS and hypothyroidism is one of the reasons why thyroid doctors struggle to find out the cause.
Studies show that Polymorphisms of the PCOS-related gene for fibrillin 3 (FBN3) could be involved in the pathogenesis of HT and PCOS. Fibrillins influence the activity of transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ).
Multifunctional TGFβ acts as a key regulator of immune tolerance by stimulating regulatory T cells (Tregs)-- known to inhibit excessive immune response. With lower TGFβ and Treg levels, the autoimmune processes, well known in Hypothyroidism and assumed in PCOS, might develop.
Does that mean we can treat PCOS by treating hypothyroidism?
To understand that, we need to understand the diagnosis of hypothyroidism and PCOS the symptoms.
The simplest way to test for hypothyroidism is to use the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH test. But the results are not always the simplest — as it’s not highly accurate. The reason for this is that TSH is produced in your brain, and its amount is regulated by the number of TSH already present in your system.
Let’s say—you’ve got an underactive thyroid, and you’re not producing enough TSH, your brain will try to increase TSH levels to counter the effect. This counter effect creates much confusion during diagnosis as the amount of TSH present in your body never indicates the health or functioning capacity of the gland itself.
There’s also the issue of hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s being present with the condition of PCOS. Since PCOS is an inflammatory condition, this inflammation can impact the production and release of TSH from the pituitary. What this means is that even if you’ve got enough TSH in your system, it may not be producing enough thyroid hormones that your body requires.
In such cases, it’s risky to base the health of your thyroid system on the amount of TSH present in your body. You need to run a full thyroid panel to identify with more than half of the typical low thyroid symptoms.
But does that mean we can treat PCOS by treating hypothyroidism? Well, the answer—it’s reversible, and at Jeevam health - we have cured many patients by reversing the condition.
But, let me explain a bit further. There are many common symptoms that we see in both conditions. These common signs and symptoms include—Inflammation, Androgen overload, Insulin Resistance, Toxic liver, disturbances in cortisol levels, and blood sugar problems.
Also, both conditions seem to be intertwined with specific food sensitivities such as Gluten, Soy, Corn, and Dairy.
The best way to treat hypothyroidism and PCOS is to opt for a functional medicine approach that focuses on improving one condition and will often improve the other.
Can you reverse hypothyroidism and PCOS together?
This question is one of the most asked questions by our patients. And the answer is -- Yes, it is 100% reversible and curable. According to Jeevam health doctors, everything boils down to how our body converts food that we eat-- our body's metabolism.
Seven root causes affect your body’s metabolism- insulin resistance, inflammation, leaky gut, increased cortisol levels, etc. These causes affect the hypothalamus that affects thyroid function and reproductive health.
So, to cure hypothyroidism and PCOS, it's essential to address the root cause and treat it. Rather than gulping huge pills -that have a very low effect on curing the disease- diagnosing the cause and working towards eliminating the disease can be effective.
Functional medicine does not slit your throat with drugs that have severe side effects - instead, it makes you feel healthy and improves the quality of your life.
Several factors can contribute to PCOS and hypothyroidism. While conventional PCOS treatment focuses on managing the disease, several side effects include weight gain, hair loss, etc., frustrate the patients. Thyroid and weight loss affects 75% of the people in India -- Hashimoto thyroiditis weight loss being the most searched keyword on the Internet every single day.
Many people also struggle with getting pregnant with PCOS and hypothyroidism. The best way to treat PCOS and hypothyroidism together is to follow a diet for PCOS and thyroid and exercise moderately. If you notice excessive undesired weight gain, reach out to us for an Indian diet for PCOS and hypothyroidism.