There are many pieces to the hormonal puzzle. In other articles, I have discussed estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These are more familiar to most women. One of the most important pieces, we have not yet discussed is thyroid function. What does your thyroid have to do with female health, PMS, and menopause problems? Everything is the answer.
There are 10 million diagnosed Americans with thyroid disease. It is estimated that another 13 million goes undiagnosed. A majority of these numbers are women. Men do have thyroid disease but usually show fewer severe symptoms. Often, thyroid weakness is carried down through all female family members. It is the missed problem in the diagnosis of thousands of women.
The thyroid gland is a small gland located in your neck and wrapped around your windpipe. It takes iodine from the food we eat. The iodine then is combined with an amino acid, Tyrosine, to make up thyroid hormones. Healthy thyroid function involves the hypothalamus in the brain and the pituitary gland as well. It is impacted by stress, negative emotions, diet, genetics, and age.
Why the Thyroid Gland Is So Important: The thyroid is the most important endocrine gland in your body. It has an impact on every cell and function of your body. It helps to regulate your temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism, and rate of growth. It controls the rate at which you burn calories. This impacts weight gain and where you gain weight. The thyroid helps maintain a healthy, working immune system. It is so important but so often goes misdiagnosed. Most people when asked could not tell you what it does or where you find it in the body. There is a serious lack of knowledge on thyroid function.
Why is Hypothyroidism missed? The current tests are not sufficient to diagnose hypothyroidism that is not severe. There is a certain criteria used to determine if treatment is needed. Thousands of women run a borderline low reading. Their doctors feel they are not deficient enough for treatment. The problem is this. You can put gas in a car, but it does not mean that the gas is being used correctly by all the parts of the engine. They can test to see if you have circulating thyroid hormone but there is no test to judge if your cells and organs are taking it in properly and using it effectively. The problem is at cell level. Many women have very serious symptoms even though the lab tests may only show a mild deficiency. These symptoms are ignored and treated as other problems, unless the test is proven positive to their evaluation. Not all doctors treat on test results only. Doctors who treat the hypothyroidism even with borderline test results, often find patients dramatically improve. This has been proven over and over again by doctors who use an overall patient evaluation not just based on lab tests. Go here for more information on the problem of thyroid diagnosis.
General Symptoms of Hypothyroidism: Of the long list of symptoms, the main ones are fatigue; lack of energy; being cold all the time; inability to sweat even after a heavy workout; constipation; unexplained weight gain: difficulty in losing weight even when you follow a plan; subnormal body temperature under 97 degrees; and high cholesterol despite diet and drug therapy;
How Thyroid Dysfunction Affects Female Health Problems:
Skin and Hair Conditions : dry, scaly, rough skin; course, brittle, slow growing hair; unexplained hair loss;
Hypothyroidism: periods may be heavy and painful, more frequent or irregular; periods may last longer than normal; and periods that begin before age 10. Severe PMS symptoms should be checked for thyroid implications.
Hyperthyroidism: associated with late menstruation, infrequent periods; lighter than normal periods
Children and Hypothyroidism: Even young girls may be hypothyroid and should be tested. This is so especially if they are overweight even though they eat a good diet. I was found to be hypothyroid at 13 years old. I began having periods at nine years old. They were so painful; I missed a day or two every month. I suffered years of painful periods that made my life miserable and were severe enough to cost work days. It was a joy when I finally hit menopause and could look forward to a period free life.
Menopausal Symptoms: Symptoms including depression and weight gain may be more severe.
Weight Gain: Hypothyroidism usually causes weight gain around the hips and middle area. Women will go on a program, follow it perfectly, eat as directed and still not lose weight. They get frustrated after weeks with no results and give up. They get accused of cheating on the program and hiding their real eating habits.
Low Libido: Women with no sexual drive may be suffering from hypothyroidism. Many of these women will complain they never had any, even when young and in love. There are many factors that affect sex drive and this is a major one. When the thyroid is out of balance, it creates more problems with all the hormones.
Heart Disease: Hypothyroidism is involved in heart disease, cholesterol regulation, and triglycerides.
Other Diseases: Lupus, Fibromyalgia, CFS, and allergies all may involve thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid function affects every function of the body. Any imbalance or disease may have thyroid dysfunction as a factor in its inception, severity, and scope. If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism that is not considered low enough for treatment, you need to find a doctor with a more open mind. If he is narrow minded, only going by the lab test, you are not going to get help. Go to the Broda Barnes web site to aid you in finding a doctor with a more open mind toward thyroid treatment.