Thyroid disease in women negatively affects puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and fertility. The thyroid gland is responsible for the production of hormones that help the body’s many functions to properly work. Thyroid diseases can affect women at any age and, depending on the condition, can lead to symptoms such as weight loss, early menopause, and even fertility issues.
There are numerous ways that thyroid diseases affect women’s health including:
Puberty and menstruation: abnormally late or early puberty and menstruation. Abnormally high or low levels of thyroid hormones, which can lead to heavy or light menstruation cycles or irregular cycles.
Reproduction: impacts ovulation. Ovulation may be prevented and there is an increased risk of cyst development. Some forms of thyroid condition cause breast milk production, while still preventing ovulation.
Pregnancy and postpartum: thyroid disease during pregnancy can harm fetus and thyroid problems may worsen postpartum.
Menopause: may lead to early onset menopause and thyroid disease symptoms may be mistaken for menopause. Treatment of thyroid disease may delay early menopause and reduce symptoms.
Thyroid problems in women
Thyroid diseases can affect the thyroid in a number of ways. When there’s too little of hormones produced, it is known as hypothyroidism. When there’s too much of hormones produced, it is known as hyperthyroidism, and the thyroid tissue in some cases can overgrow resulting in nodules or lumps. Although often these are noncancerous, in some cases cancer can develop.
Hypothyroidism: In hypothyroidism, there is not enough hormones being produced, so the metabolism and the body slow down. Symptoms are often mistaken for other conditions and proper testing is required in order for treatment to begin.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- low body temperature
- weight gain
- dry or itchy skin
- thin, dry hair or hair loss
- puffy face, hands, and feet
- decreased taste and smell
- slow heart rate
- poor memory
- trouble with concentration
- hoarseness or husky voice
- irregular or heavy menstruation
- muscle aches
- high cholesterol
- goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
Hyperthyroidism: There is an increase of hormones in hyperthyroidism, which causes the metabolism and other bodily functions to speed up. Symptoms of this thyroid problem in women are:
- weight loss
- fast or irregular heart rate
- heat intolerance or increased perspiration
- changes in appetite
- sleep disturbances (such as insomnia)
- muscle weakness
- trembling hands
- more frequent bowel movements
- shorter and scantier menstrual flow
- exophthalmos(bulging eyes)
- goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
Thyroid nodules: This type of thyroid disease occurs in 50 percent of women over the age of 50, making it the most common. Nodules are often small in size, but can grow up to five centimeters. Nodules are often discovered through imaging scans. Thyroid nodules are often benign clumps of thyroid cells that don’t function like normal thyroid cells. Some nodules end up being cysts and less than 10 percent of them are cancerous. Whenever there is a growth on the thyroid gland, it is best to have a doctor test it to rule out cancer.
There are many treatment options for the different types of thyroid diseases, and if well managed, complications from thyroid diseases can be greatly reduced. Having your thyroid checked for any issues can onset treatment sooner in order to resolve any issues and prevent future complications.
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