Why Are Thyroid Gland Problems Common in Women?

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Menopause has been one great ride for me. It was a game-changer!
I started to look over my life, what I eat and how I move. I also changed how I see my world and my surroundings to live a more positive life.

My lifestyle was pretty healthy, but my body felt off. I was often tired, and now and then, I felt heart palpitations. Sometimes I noticed some swelling, and my blood pressure reading became slightly high. After visiting the doctor, I found out it was thyroid gland problems.

You see, menopause affects many organs in our body – this includes the thyroid. Not to mention, we are more prone to thyroid gland problems than men. Let’s find out how menopause contributes to thyroid issues and how we can heal this butterfly gland naturally!

Why are thyroid Gland problems common in women?

Major Functions of Your Thyroid Glands

Your thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located right at the base and center of your neck. In men, the landmark is Adam’s apple. Its main function is to regulate metabolism for energy.

The thyroid gland is a small part of your body, but it has an enormous job keeping your body processes balanced. Aside from metabolism, it also helps with:

  • Growth and development
  • Brain functioning
  • Reproductive health
  • Stress management
  • Healthy hair, skin and nails
  • Normal breathing, heart rate and body temperature
  • Proper central nervous system functioning
  • Healthy body weight
  • Regular menstrual cycles
  • Normal cholesterol levels

The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system. This system is made up of your glands that produce and store hormones.

You have two thyroid hormones called Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). Your hypothalamus and pituitary gland balance these two. Please read our fact box at the end for more information about these hormones.

Does Menopause Cause Thyroid Gland Problems?

I read an article in the Huffington Post, and the title was, “Is it menopause or a thyroid disorder?”. It makes sense.

You see, whether you’re going through menopause or you have a thyroid problem, both can affect each other. These conditions have a bi-directional relationship!

First, women have a higher risk of having thyroid problems. Experts say the culprit is because of our hormones.

How Menopause Affects Our Thyroid

Estrogen and progesterone have great control over your thyroid function. During perimenopause, progesterone decreases before estrogen. As a result, estrogen goes up, leading to a condition called estrogen dominance.

Higher estrogen may over-activate your thyroid gland. This causes hyperthyroidism. Meanwhile, when reaching postmenopause, the exact opposite happens. We tend to develop hypothyroidism because of low estrogen levels. But these thyroid gland problems aren’t set in stone. They happen at any time during the different stages of menopause.

How the Thyroid Affects Menopause

To be specific, hypothyroidism affects us during menopause. When we have low thyroid hormones, our body slows down, including the ovaries. As a result, our estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, and this worsens symptoms.

Meanwhile, hyperthyroidism activates every part of our body. This may result in more hot flashes, night sweats and sleep disturbances.

For this reason, the best way to know if it’s menopause or thyroid gland problems is to take a hormone test! You can also take note of your symptoms.

Here’s a video of Dr. Berg explaining why thyroid gland problems are common in menopause (6:19):

The Two Common Thyroid Gland Problems in Women

1. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism means your thyroid is overactive. It’s producing excess hormones, especially T4. More thyroid hormones mean overactive body functions. You can feel hyperthyroidism symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety, irritability or mood swings
  • Oversweating
  • Hand trembling
  • Hair loss
  • Light or missed monthly periods
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Cravings and increased appetite
  • More frequent bowel movements
  • Increased heart rate and breathing
  • Heat intolerance

Aside from changing hormones during menopause, some causes of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Grave’s Disease – an autoimmune condition where your antibodies attack your thyroid. This causes an enlargement.
  • Thyroiditis – inflammation of your thyroid that happens because of viral overload.
  • Thyroid Nodules – one or more lumps in your thyroid which makes the organ produce more hormones.
  • Iodine overload – happens where there’s too much consumption of foods that contain iodine.

2. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism happens when your thyroid is too slow. One main symptom of this condition is a sluggish metabolism. You may feel symptoms such as:

Some causes of hypothyroidism are:

  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis  – an autoimmune disorder when your antibodies attack your thyroid. This is the leading cause of hypothyroidism.
  • Radiation therapy – damages the cells of the thyroid affecting its activity.
  • Medications – drugs for heart problems and mental disabilities affect the thyroid.
  • Deficiency in iodine – iodine is one of the keys to produce thyroid hormones. Your body doesn’t produce iodine so you need to eat more foods such as saltwater fish, shells, clams, kelp and eggs.

10 Natural Ways to Balance Your Thyroid Hormones During Menopause

Sharing with you these ten tips that I practice in my life!

1. Less carbs and load up on healthy fats. Too many carbs in your diet may increase estrogen levels. Eat more healthy fats such as coconut, wild salmon, avocado, chia and flaxseeds instead.
2. Eat a balanced diet with iodine. To keep iodine levels in balance, eat more veggies, fruits, kelp and fresh seafood.
3. Go gluten and dairy-free! These food components may cause food allergies and intolerance. They can also lead to a “leaky gut”, which may cause inflammation of the thyroid gland.
4. Avoid sugar and fast foods. They contain a lot of chemicals such as GMOs and xenoestrogens that trigger autoimmune diseases.
5. Take Carnitine, Selenium and Bugleweed. These supplements keep antibodies at normal levels. This prevents them from attacking your thyroid.
6. Use Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that may help regulate your thyroid hormones. It also has balancing properties.
7. Use anti-inflammatory herbs. Herbs such as holy basil, rosemary and oregano help prevent inflammation in your thyroid.
8. Detoxify daily! Flush out toxins by eating whole, organic foods and cruciferous veggies. Bone broth is especially good for detoxification. Have more citrus fruits for snacks, avoid using plastics and personal care products. A mixture of turmeric, milk thistle, chlorella and cilantro flushes out heavy metals.

Dr. Hyman and Dr. Izabella Wentz discuss how toxins can cause thyroid gland problems in this video [8:18]:

9. Take advantage of essential oils. Essential oils such as Frankincense and Myrrh are two of the best oils for the thyroid. They can regulate thyroid hormone production and increase blood going to the gland.
10. Reduce stress! Your thyroid is so sensitive to stress so you need to slow down. Stress produces cortisol which offsets the balance in your thyroid. Cortisol can hyperactivate or shut off the thyroid in a snap! Reduce stress by doing activities such as deep breathing, yoga and meditation. A walk in nature can make a world of difference!

Dr. Josh Axe also has a great video of his top 5 picks to maintain thyroid health [4:15]:

Quick Trivia: Are the Adam’s Apple and Thyroid Connected?

If your Adam’s apple is big, does that mean you have a thyroid issue? Before we answer that, let’s get into some information first!

Your Adam’s Apple and thyroid are so close to each other, but they are different parts of your body!
Adam’s Apple is a prominence in your neck. It becomes obvious as you go through puberty. Your hormones affect its growth. Both men and women have it, but it’s more obvious in men.

The thyroid is at the center of your throat, right below your Adam’s Apple and above your collar bone. It’s hidden and not visible, but there are cases when it enlarges.

So, let’s go straight to the question: do they have any relationship?

NO! Adam’s apple and the thyroid gland do not have any form of relationship. But sometimes, some people experience bulges in their necks. They think their Adam’s apple is growing when in fact, it’s their thyroid!

Since these two parts sit next to each other, the enlarged thyroid pushes Adam’s apple forward. As a result, it appears bigger!

Dr. Elise Brett has a good video where she shows us the exact location of the thyroid. She also performs a self-neck exam for the thyroid in the same video. Watch it here [1:12]:

What can I do to Check for Thyroid Health?

Besides checking your neck, one best thing you can do is to take hormone tests. Many doctors use the TSH and T4 tests to determine your thyroid health. But these tests don’t assess the overall condition of your thyroid gland. Many researchers say that people who have thyroid gland problems tend to have normal TSH. It’s best to take a complete thyroid panel.

Fact Box

Triiodothyronine (T3) is the active form of your thyroid hormones. It influences many processes in your body, but it’s primarily in-charge of metabolism.

Thyroxine (T4) is the inactive form of your thyroid hormones. But it’s more abundant than your T3. When T4 reaches your organs and tissues, it is converted into T3 and serves its functions.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) tells your thyroid gland how much T3 and T4 to produce. It’s produced by a part of our brain called the pituitary glands. TSH is found in our blood.

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Gita is the founder of My Menopause Journey. Since 2014, she has been supporting midlife women by sharing hard-earned learnings from her own experience. To advance her knowledge, Gita puts a lot of her time and effort into understanding the broad spectrum of women’s health. She immerses in extensive research about the physical, mental and emotional aspects of menopause. Gita believes in the life-changing power of healthy, holistic living — this is where she anchors her message to all women. Learn more about her marvelous mission in About us - My Menopause Journey.

22 thoughts on “Why Are Thyroid Gland Problems Common in Women?”

    1. Jayne Walters See a doctor and take tests to be sure what it is. Our article also has some natural tips for extra support on your thyroid and health. All the best! 🙂

  1. Trouble is I had my menopause at exactthe same time as developing hyperthyroidism! Took ages to work out it wasn’t just my age making me feel awful.

    1. Jan Cooper Thyroid problems are quite common in menopause. But there are solutions, you don’t have to suffer with the symptoms. Head on to our site, we have a lot of healthy tips that can help support you in menopause. Hope you’re feeling much better now! 🙂

    2. Thank you yes feeling better – took medication for 14 months and it kicked it into touch. However, I am now on the ‘low side’ of normal, which I think for me is slightly hypo … so now the endless battle with weight etc!

    3. Jan Cooper Shift your mindset, don’t think weight.
      Think healthy living! Everything else will follow and you’ll thrive mentally and physically.
      Your weight will also auto-adjust naturally. 🙂
      We all have our own healthy habits. For me, I started with IF, which in my case means fasting between 8 evening to 12 noon. A 16/8 fast. Can take a few days to adjust to it, but it has made a big difference for both me and my husband.
      If I do get hungry or crave for something before noon, I have a boiled egg, an avocado, some nuts or chia pudding. Eating protein and fat instead of carbs first thing after a fast, will help you with you weight as well.
      Don´t starve yourself. Eat mostly veggies, greens, fats and protein. Avoid the bad stuff and use your legs more. That will do the trick! 🙂

    1. Tina Jones Since you’re already taking medication, I understand you’ve already gone to a doctor, that’s good! We also have 9 natural tips in our article for extra support. See if they can help you. 🙂

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