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Thyroid imbalance may raise menstrual problems, affect fertility in women: Experts

IANS Jan 23, 2024

Women with thyroid imbalance are likely to face menstrual and fertility problems, according to health experts on 19th Jan. January is observed as a thyroid awareness month

The thyroid gland, located in the neck, produces hormones such as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxin (T4) that play a crucial role in regulating the body's metabolism, energy production, and overall growth and development.

Thyroid disease encompasses a range of conditions affecting the thyroid gland's function, with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism being the most common disorders.

Thyroid disorders are known to increase the probability of having menstrual irregularities by approximately 30.62 per cent in hypothyroidism -- when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones -- and 7.5 per cent in hyperthyroidism -- when the thyroid gland produces too much.

“Thyroid disease can hurt one's menses by disrupting hormone levels. Irregular periods are a common issue associated with thyroid disease, with hypothyroidism potentially causing heavy or prolonged bleeding and hyperthyroidism leading to light or infrequent periods,” A renowned gynaecologist, at Zynova Shalby Hospital, Mumbai, told IANS.

“In addition, thyroid dysfunction can result in amenorrhoea, where menstruation ceases entirely, either as a primary condition in young women or as a secondary occurrence in those who previously had regular cycles,” she added.

She said thyroid imbalances can also affect women’s fertility. It can cause anovulation, the failure of the ovaries to release an egg during the menstrual cycle and cause difficulties in conceiving.

Another problem with thyroid imbalance may be polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a prevalent endocrine disorder in women. While PCOS is not directly associated with thyroid disease, some research indicates a potential link between PCOS and autoimmune thyroid disease, potentially worsening menstrual irregularities.

“Thyroid dysfunction can also increase the likelihood of complications during pregnancy, such as preterm birth, preeclampsia, and developmental problems in the baby,” the doctor said.

To identify any thyroid issues women must take tests such as T3, T3RU, T4, and TSH. These can help women take prompt action through medication, exercise, and dietary changes to enhance their overall well-being.

“In addition to the standard TSH test, choosing tests such as Free T3, Free T4, and thyroid antibodies can offer a more comprehensive perspective on thyroid health. These extra tests can assist in identifying underlying issues that may not be evident from just the TSH levels, providing women with a better grasp of their thyroid function and potential causes of any symptoms they may be experiencing,” Dr Rajesh Bendre, National Technical Head & Chief Pathologist Apollo Diagnostics Delhi, told IANS.

“Consider also examining Reverse T3 levels, as they provide valuable insights into how the body converts T4 hormone into its active form,” he added.

The doctors also emphasised eating a healthy diet consisting of vital nutrients, and stress management techniques like yoga and meditation to help regulate the production of thyroid hormones. Daily exercise and maintaining an optimum weight is also key to improving thyroid health, they said.

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