Is it menopause or your thyroid?
Many people consider hot flashes and night sweats a sign of early menopause but
altered thyroid function can cause many symptoms associated with menopause. In fact
many of the symptoms associated with menopause are also signs that your thyroid isn’t
functioning properly. Some other signs of thyroid dysfunction are: fatigue, cold hand
and feet, forgetfulness, changes in nails and skin, depression, muscle cramps/weakness,
irregular cycles, PMS, constipation and weight gain.
This is why it is so important to look at the body as a set of interconnected systems,
rather than isolating the organs as a single entity. In fact, we often see hypothyroidism
in our patients as part of a larger pattern of long-term hormonal imbalance.
Over 20% of menopausal women in the US are diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction.
Recent studies suggest that millions more suffer from subclinical problems but are
undiagnosed. For women in their late 30’s or 40’s, hypothyroidism is often a good
indication that they are in perimenopause — the five, ten, or even 15 years of hormonal
change preceding menopause. Why is this so? Because, studies have shown that high
estrogen combined with low progesterone levels, called estrogen dominance,
hampers thyroid function. Strong synthetic estrogens, such as those in Premarin, may
exacerbate estrogen dominance.
A great test that you can do at home is a temperature test. Keep a thermometer beside
your bed. When you awaken in the morning, before moving around (yes, even before
you make a trip to the bathroom), tuck the thermometer snugly in your armpit and keep
it in place for 15 minutes. Keep as still as possible. Then, remove the thermometer, take
a reading, and write down the results. Follow this procedure for three days, then
determine an average reading by adding all three readings together and dividing by
three. If you're average temperature is below 97.5 degrees F., in all probability you are
suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism. Of course, this test is not to be used to
replace any needed medical tests or attention to problems that you may have.
Other testing of salivary or blood levels of progesterone during the luteal phase of the
menstrual cycle can be of great value, as well as salivary and blood levels of thyroid
hormones give us a picture of your hormonal health. With these simple tests a gentle
replacement can be implemented if needed to reduce the negative impact of excess
estrogen on the thyroid.
Some dietary supplements we use are Bladderwack which is high in iodine and is
beneficial for under-active thyroid conditions, Black Cohosh which helps balance
estrogen levels and may be useful in thyroid conditions, Siberian Ginseng which helps
the adrenal and thymus glands, by helping support thyroid health, and Kelp Sea Weed
is an excellent antioxidant and contains iodine to assist thyroid function. Our Thyroid
Complex formula by Mediherb contains these helpful herbs to help the body to
restore normal function.
The bottom line is that nutrition, stress management, and exercise are the keys to your
well-being —and optimal thyroid and hormonal function is not likely without them.
Beyond this foundation, you may still may need thyroid hormone replacement, and this
is something you should discuss with your healthcare provider. We can tell you that we’
ve seen in our practice patients who improve using nonprescription thyroid
interventions, but for some women, thyroid hormone replacement is absolutely crucial.
In these cases we recommend alternative thyroid treatments as a complement, rather
than a substitute, for thyroid medication.
Health & Wellness Blog
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each person is treated as a unique individual. Our personalized programs promote
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