Most women are told this sentence whenever they feel low or irritable-
“Why are you being so hormonal??”
This makes one thing clear. Hormones deeply impact not just our body function but also our mood and state of mind. Thyroid disease is no different.
Thyroid problems in women can cause weight gain, mood swings, hair fall, etc all of which affect self-confidence. They can also affect the menstrual cycle and make the beautiful journey of motherhood more stressful than it has to be.
So why does thyroid disease occur in females? This is a little complicated so read closely.
Why do thyroid problems occur in females?
One of the most common causes of thyroid problems in women is autoimmunity. We know this specific condition as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. But let’s dive in a little deeper and explore the next question:
Why do autoimmune diseases occur more in women? What is the reason for thyroid in females?
To understand this, we need to see what the fundamental difference between men and women is. While both genders have 46 chromosomes, they are not totally identical. A chromosome can be considered as a cookbook. It provides the recipes (called genes) that determine body functions.
While men and women have the same 22 pairs, the last pair (known as the sex chromosome) is different. The genetic makeup of women has 2 X chromosomes whereas men have one X and one Y chromosome.
A large bulk of the genes responsible for immune function in the body are located on the X chromosome. As women have two X chromosomes, there is a higher chance of developing immune problems such as autoimmune diseases.
This is the reason for thyroid disease in females. This genetic predisposition explains why thyroid problems are seen in women.
Hypothyroidism and menstruation
For most women, “that time of the month” is stressful enough and not something to look forward to. Cramps, mood swings, body pain, and the constant fear of staining are only some of the challenges that women face each month.
Well, here’s some bad news. Thyroid problems make it worse. Thyroid disease in women is also linked with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This means you might experience:
- Irregular periods
- Skipping cycles
- Unusually heavy or light flow
- Premenstrual spotting
This is one of the many reasons why it is a must to visit a doctor and start thyroid treatment as soon as possible. After understanding why thyroid problems occur in women, taking action is a must.
Thyroid disease in women and infertility
Menstrual difficulties are a struggle that become even more worrisome when trying to plan a pregnancy. Here’s how thyroid problems in women cause infertility:
- Irregular menstrual cycles make it difficult to assess the ideal window with the highest chances of conception.
- The body is unable to release the egg as it usually does. Irregular ovulation means more difficulty in timing intercourse.
- It also increases the chances of loss of pregnancy or miscarriage in early pregnancy.
Hypothyroidism in pregnancy Pregnancy is one of the most special and memorable times for most women. However, it is also the time when women are most worried about their health and even a minor health concern becomes a cause for anxiety.
Imagine being told in such a situation that you’re developing thyroid disease. In India, hypothyroidism is a common concern during pregnancy with a prevalence rate of 13% which is much higher than what is seen in Western countries. The study also found that 40% of these women were positive for anti-TPO antibodies.
Here’s a shocking fact: low levels of thyroid hormones can affect the development of the foetus even in women with no symptoms. They can result in premature delivery, low birth weight, and even learning difficulties later in life. So, testing for and treating thyroid disorders in women during pregnancy is a must.
With this understanding of why thyroid disease is seen in females and what its result can be, let’s move on to what you can do.
How to treat thyroid problems in women?
Let’s make one thing clear- functional medicine or lifestyle changes do not mean you can just suddenly stop your medication. Your body is used to getting external hormones and stopping them abruptly can be very dangerous. Any change in dose should be made only as per your doctor's recommendations.
Instead, here’s what we propose - a systematic plan to gradually reduce (and even stop!) your thyroid medication. In women, two main hormonal conditions are very common - hypothyroidism and (PCOS). Both of these are associated with lifestyle factors.
This means that a large part of the treatment is regulating diet, exercise, sleep, and stress patterns. This is why having a team of thyroid experts is the easiest and healthiest way to get results.
The bottom line: Autoimmunity is the reason why thyroid occurs in females. This affects female hormones as well and can result in a disruption of the menstrual cycle, difficulty in conceiving, and complications during pregnancy.
Jeevam Health can help in recovery from these consequences of thyroid disease in women.