Hypothyroidism and your Period
I’ve written about the thyroid before, specifically postpartum thyroiditis (a recommended read, even if you’re not in the postpartum) and my own journey about healing my thyroid. The fact of the matter is that the health of the thyroid is so critical when it comes to how we feel and function on a day to day. Today I’m going to specifically address how the thyroid affects the menstrual cycle.
Quick Recap about the Thyroid
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at front of the neck, which basically acts as the body’s metabolic switch. When the switch is ‘low’ symptoms of hypothyroidism may occur. Whereas when the gland is in ‘overdrive,’ symptoms of hyperthyroidism may occur.
Thyroid Hormones & Labs
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
TSH is the best test for both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. In hyperthyroidism, TSH will be decreased while in hypothyroidism TSH will be increased. Optimal range for TSH is 1-2 mIU/L (non-pregnant patients).
This is the storage form of the thyroid hormone. Optimal range is 14-18 pmol/L (non-pregnant patients).
This is the active form of thyroid hormone. The thyroid should be making T3 and the peripheral tissues (like the liver and kidneys) should be converting T4 to T3. Optimal range is 5-6 pmol/L (non-pregnant patients).
This is the antithyroid peroxidase antibody, which will be elevated in autoimmune thyroid disorders. It signifies autoimmune thyroid disease, and the higher the level, the greater oxidative stress within the thyroid gland. It is an indicator of future thyroid disease.
The Thyroid & the Menstrual Cycle
If the body is in a hypothyroid state, this may lead to unintended effects on the menstrual cycle. According to Lara Briden, an under active thyroid may:
(1) Decrease energy needed by the ovaries to ovulate
(2) Impair estrogen detoxification and cause relative estrogen dominance (think PMS symptoms!)
(3) Cause heavy bleeding
Healing Your Thyroid
Get your thyroid hormones tested. There’s nothing worse than not having information that will help guide your treatment plan. It’s like knowing your start and end destination, but not equipping yourself with a map. If you don’t have the directions, how will you get there?
Stress can have a big impact on how your body functions. In fact, it’s important to address stress before treating the thyroid. If you just treat the thyroid and don’t focus at all on stress, the stress will continue to negatively impact your thyroid, and this cycle of feeling awful and having unnecessary symptoms will continue.
Because estrogen detoxification may be affected by the thyroid, you’ll want to support the liver’s ability to detox. Ensuring that you’re getting B vitamins through supplementation or green leafy vegetables and quality protein for phase 1 support, and eating sulphurous vegetables for phase 2 support! Not to mention, your bowel movements should be occurring pretty regularly to ensure that estrogen is not re-circulating back into the system.
The message that I really want to stay with you, is you need to treat the underlying cause of your thyroid concern. If it might be because of your adrenals – then that should be addressed FIRST. I get it, feeling great again can take it’s sweet time (my story) – but it’s worthwhile to figure out to create the best plan to get where you want to be!
PS. If you like my period-related articles, I encourage you to sign up for The Flow – my monthly newsletter! Not only do you get a free hormone-balancing meal plan, you get tons of high quality info! Who wouldn’t want that?