How Does Your Thyroid Hormone Affect PCOS?
Having PCOS does NOT mean that you have hypothyroidism or have an increased chance of developing hypothyroidism. However, both conditions can coexist in the same person. Although PCOS and hypothyroidism are fundamentally different conditions, they do share similarities. However, the exact relationship and how it affects a woman’s health is still unknown.
It’s been shown that women who have both these conditions have harmful metabolic and reproductive effects and worse symptoms than those who only have one of the two conditions.
What Is a Thyroid?
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. It makes two hormones that are secreted into the blood: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are necessary for all the cells in your body to work normally.
Where is your thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland lies in the front of your neck in a position just below your Adam’s apple. It is made up of two lobes — the right lobe and the left lobe, each about the size of a plum cut in half — and these two lobes are joined by a small bridge of thyroid tissue called the isthmus. The two lobes lie on either side of your windpipe.
What does it do in the body?
The thyroid makes two hormones that are secreted into the bloodstream. One is called thyroxine — this hormone contains four atoms of iodine and is often called T4. The other is called triiodothyronine, which contains three atoms of iodine and is often called T3.
In the body tissues, it is the T3, derived from T4 or secreted as T3 directly from the thyroid gland, which is biologically active and influences the activity of all the cells and tissues of your body. In other words, it regulates the speed with which your body cells work. If too much of the thyroid hormones are secreted, the body cells work faster than normal, and you have hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).
On the other hand, if too little of the thyroid hormones are produced, the cells and organs of your body slow down. This is known as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
What Are Normal Levels?
Total T4 and Total T3 levels measure bound and free thyroid hormones in the blood
TSH normal values are 0.5 to 5.0 mIU/L
A normal Total T4 level in adults ranges from 5.0 to 12.0μg/dL
A normal Total T3 level in adults ranges from 80-220 ng/dL
What Causes High or Low Levels?
EHigh levels of thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can be caused by several medical conditions that affect the thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism happens when the thyroid gland puts too much of those thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. Some of the causes that can lead to hyperthyroidism include:
- Graves disease (the most common cause of hyperthyroidism)
- Inflammation (thyroiditis) of the thyroid due to viral infections, some medicines or after pregnancy
- Taking too much thyroid hormone
- Noncancerous growths of the thyroid gland or pituitary gland
High levels of thyroid (hypothyroidism) happen when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough hormones. There can be many reasons why the cells in the thyroid gland can’t make enough thyroid hormone. Here are some of the major causes:
- Hashimoto’s disease
- Thyroiditis, or inflammation of the thyroid
- Congenital hypothyroidism, or hypothyroidism that is present at birth
- Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid
- Radiation treatment of the thyroid
- Effect of certain medications
- Too much or too little iodine in the diet
What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
When thyroid hormone levels are too low, the body’s cells can’t get enough thyroid hormone and the body’s processes start slowing down. Because the symptoms are so variable and nonspecific, the only way to know for sure whether you have hypothyroidism is with a simple blood test for TSH.
Some of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism are:
- Weight gain
- Irregular periods
- Slow heart rate
- Dry skin
- More sensitivity to cold
What Are the Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism?
The thyroid hormone plays a significant role in the pace of many processes in the body. These processes are called your metabolism. If there is too much thyroid hormone, every function of the body tends to speed up.
Some of the common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:
- Fast heartbeat
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Sleep problems
How To Naturally Increase Thyroid Hormone in Women
If you are diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you will likely be required to take medications for the rest of your life. Although this can seem overwhelming at the beginning, thyroid medications greatly help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. These medications play the role of the thyroid hormone to help relieve symptoms
Although in some cases it might be possible to stop the medication, such as in cases of borderline hypothyroidism, speak with your doctor first.
There is no proven way to naturally increase thyroid levels without the need for medications. Having said that, following a healthy lifestyle such as having a balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress and sleeping well can help improve thyroid function as well as your overall health.
How To Measure Your Hormone Levels
Your doctors may recommend one or more blood tests to check your thyroid function. Tests may include thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T4, T3, and thyroid antibody tests.
For these tests, a healthcare professional will draw blood from your arm and send it to a lab for testing.
Ideally, it is recommended to get the thyroid test done in the morning. Although there is no need for specific preparation for the test, certain medications or supplements can interfere with the test result, so speak to your doctor before getting tested. A fasting sample is not required unless specified.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Symptoms of thyroid disorders can easily be confused with other conditions. So the most definitive way to diagnose thyroid problems is via a blood test. Additionally, imaging tests such as a thyroid scan or ultrasound can help your doctor check your thyroid for any physical abnormalities of the thyroid gland.
Thyroid medications can differ based on what it’s being used for. There are separate medications for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism that help address the specific issues. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor can recommend the dosage and type of medication to be taken.
Levothyroxine is the synthetic form of thyroxine hormone and is the first line of treatment for hypothyroidism. Tapazole is an anti-thyroid drug that inhibits the thyroid from using iodine (usually from the diet) to produce thyroid hormones. This drug is used to treat hyperthyroidism.
Certain supplements can help improve thyroid health and function. However, it is important to discuss this with your doctor before starting any supplement as some are known to reduce the efficacy of thyroid medications.
Supplements such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc and selenium can help in thyroid hormone production and metabolism. On the other hand, iron, calcium and biotin can interfere with thyroid medication absorption.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the commonly asked questions about thyroid hormone.
What are early warning signs of thyroid problems?
Symptoms of thyroid disorders can seem subtle and hard to spot. The only way to be sure if you have a thyroid disorder is to get tested. If you are experiencing signs such as fatigue, irregular periods, sudden weight gain/weight loss, mood disorders or changes in heartbeat rhythm, speak to a doctor who can recommend appropriate tests for you.
When to worry about thyroid nodules?
Although most thyroid nodules are noncancerous and usually don’t cause problems, speak with your doctor to evaluate if you’re experiencing any unusual swelling in your neck, especially if you have trouble breathing or swallowing. It is important to evaluate the possibility of thyroid cancer.
How to reduce thyroid inflammation?
A healthy lifestyle can help reduce inflammation in the body. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and seeds can reduce inflammatory markers. Daily exercise, managing stress levels and sleeping well can also help maintain hormone levels.
Learn More with Vedas Cure
Symptoms of thyroid disorders can go overlooked, and hence it is important to get yourself tested if you are showing unusual signs or suspect having a thyroid disorder. There are plenty of treatment options to manage these conditions, the first step is to get the correct diagnosis. Speak to our experts at Vedas for personalised, science-backed treatment plans that work.
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