If you experience problems with your menstrual cycle, it’s important that your thyroid function is thoroughly investigated to ensure that the role of the thyroid gland in monthly ovulation is being carried out effectively.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your throat that is responsible for creating thyroid hormone – a hormone which is key for all kinds of activity in the body; from burning calories, to healthy digestion, cognition, energy production, detoxification and importantly, ovulation.
Insufficient production of thyroid hormone, which is characteristic of hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland) can result in period problems such as the following:
· Irregular ovulation
· Heavy and long periods
· Heightened PMS symptoms
· Impaired insulin sensitivity (which increases your risk of PCOS)
· High prolactin levels (which interferes with ovulation)
Hypothyroidism is unfortunately, very common– affecting one in ten women and unfortunately it frequently goes undiagnosed. Supporting the thyroid gland to make more thyroid hormone is a multi-factorial process, considering a woman’s nutrient status, possible immune system involvement, stress and cortisol response, gut health, toxic load, and liver health.
Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) causes an oversupply of thyroid hormone production and can also affect menstrual health, however it is less common. The most frequently experienced period problem associated with hyperthyroidism is absent or irregular periods, or light and short periods. Too much thyroid hormone production can be due to the autoimmune condition ‘Graves Disease’, so supporting the function of the immune system in this condition, will too prove fundamental to recovery of period problems and lead to more regular, and well-timed cycles.
Without tooting our own horns, it’s safe to say that Naturopaths are commonly the health practitioners who pick up on and diagnose thyroid conditions in women with period and fertility problems. If you’re a patient of ours at the clinic, you've likely heard us discussing the importance of comprehensive thyroid testing – not just the standard TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) that gets routinely tested on regular bloods.
Testing TSH alone doesn’t give us much information about the actual production of thyroid hormones, as there’s a lot more to the story. If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of thyroid hormone imbalance relating to your period (or other aspects of your health), we will order a panel of thorough thyroid tests to be done including:
· Free T4 (the “first” thyroid hormone)
· Free T3 (the “active” thyroid hormone)
· Reverse T3
· Thyroid antibodies
· Urinary iodine
By doing so, we can ensure we are getting an accurate picture of the thyroid’s involvement in your period health picture and target our treatment specifically to your needs.
DIY Thyroid Support
The thyroid gland is highly sensitive to environmental toxins, which can throw-off the balance of hormones being manufactured and used by the body. Similarly, our female reproductive system is easily disrupted by toxins, known as “Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals” (EDC’s). EDC’s can mimic, block or interfere with hormones, both thyroid and reproductive, so a simple suggestion to all women, regardless of age and period health, is to minimise your exposure to these chemicals. You can do this by:
· Avoiding tinned foods and foods packaged in plastic
· Never reheat food in plastic containers
· Use a water filter for all drinking water
· Avoid bleach and chemical-laden cleaning products
· Use organic, natural beauty & personal products
· Use soap and water instead of antibacterial sanitiser as often as possible
· Buy organic or pesticide-free produce & dairy as much as you can
Supporting women with their thyroid and menstrual health is an area where naturopathic medicine shines, so if you experience period problems or are suspicious that your thyroid health may be contributing to your period problems, get in touch with us at the clinic as we are well-equipped to helping you achieve you better bleeds!
You can get in touch with Claire via reception: 02 9555 8806 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org