Having a thyroid issue in menopause and all the physical changes and symptoms that go with the change, is a life altering experience. While frustrating symptoms from weight gain to fatigue to poor concentration are common with both issues, other, more mysterious symptoms like hair loss and dry skin also appear.
Trying to isolate the underlying cause of your symptoms can be overwhelming. But it’s worth your attention because if left unaddressed, thyroid imbalances can get even worse — eventually leading to full-blown hypothyroidism and lifelong medication.
Thyroid issues are extremely common in menopause
When your body naturally produces fewer reproductive hormones, your thyroid hormones — as well as your adrenal function — can be affected too. In fact, both reproductive and thyroid hormones are actually regulated by the same control center in the brain and so each can affect the other. Low estrogen, for example, can inhibit active thyroid hormones (T3 and T4), which slows your thyroid function — and causes difficult symptoms.
3 questions to ask yourself to uncover thyroid issues in menopause
Right this minute, millions of women are suffering from undiagnosed, or subclinical, thyroid issues with six times as many women as men affected by sluggish or low thyroid function. Here’s what to ask yourself — and what to do — to help uncover a thyroid issue you may have:
When women identify unusual weight gain as a severe problem when taking our thyroid profile, 6 out of 10 of them also suffer from temperature sensitivity — a telltale thyroid symptom.
1. Do your symptoms overlap? Look for patterns and telltale signs. Weird weight gain? Fatigue? Low sex drive? It’s hard to know what’s going on when so many thyroid symptoms are similar to those in menopause. This overlap occurs because your thyroid and reproductive hormones axes are so interconnected.
When trying to pinpoint the cause of symptoms, women should consider whether they’re having any telltale symptoms of low thyroid issues: feeling cold all of the time, thinning hair or hair loss, yellowing of the hands, or dry, flaky skin. Often women who suffer from one common symptom are also experiencing 3-4 lesser-known symptoms that also signal a sluggish thyroid, or a more severe issue like hypothyroidism.
2. Is your thyroid test really “normal”? Ask for your specific numbers. For many women with thyroid symptoms, a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test is the first step. A TSH test measures how much thyroid stimulating hormone your brain is releasing to stimulate thyroid hormone production. If levels of thyroid stimulating hormone are high, it generally indicates your thyroid is not producing enough active thyroid hormone, which leads to uncomfortable symptoms. Unfortunately, you may be told your numbers are “normal” even as your symptoms are getting progressively worse.
Many women with mild and moderate symptoms may have subclinical hypothyroidism — commonly called “low thyroid.” So even when you are actively experiencing symptoms, your test results may appear in the “normal” range, or be right on the border, according to conventional practitioners that is. For example while the “normal range” for labs that test TSH may be as high as 4.0mlU/L, we generally like to see TSH blood level tests come closer to 2.0 mlU/L.
Look for changes that take place over time, as well as patterns and trends. This is especially important during menopause, when even small adjustments can make a significant difference in relieving frustrating symptoms.
We suggest taking thyroid supportive steps if your levels are above 2.0 mlU/L, if your TSH levels have been gradually rising over the years, or if you are having symptoms. This way you have an opportunity to rebalance your thyroid without medication.
3. Did you know a sluggish thyroid can sneak up on you? Act now before it’s too late. Thyroid issues are “sneaky” even if you’ve been taking good care of yourself. In fact, you may have lived your entire life without realizing you were vulnerable to thyroid imbalance, until the extra stresses of hormonal imbalance in menopause expose a low thyroid issue. This can be especially scary for women who have been working to stay healthy and don’t want a lifetime of medication. The good news is that there are many natural options to support your thyroid function, especially if you get started sooner rather than later.
- Bacopa monnieri
- Coleus forskohlii
Our approach to thyroid health can help you feel like yourself again and it includes many of the above and more! Learn more.
Iodine is the central ingredient in T3 and T4. Selenium is also needed for the conversion of T4 to T3, the thyroid hormone your cells recognize the best. If you are deficient in selenium, using a supplement like T-Balance Plus can make a noticeable difference.
Vitamin A, EPA and DHA essential fatty acids, and zinc, for example, act to improve T3 binding in your cells.
The best way to support your thyroid — and your whole endocrine system — is to start early. This is especially important during menopause, when even small adjustments can make a significant difference in relieving frustrating symptoms.