How important is the thyroid for female health?

Karen Fitzpatrick-Dame, ChhC, AADP

Very important. Your thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system and it plays an integral role in hormone production, regulation and distribution. It is also essential for female gynecological function and reproduction. In fact, your thyroid gland is absolutely critical for the whole body to function biologically and physiologically. Every cell in your body communicates with your thyroid like a sophisticated radio transmission. In simple terms, without a healthy functioning thyroid, it’s a challenge to achieve optimal female health.

Irregular menstruation is very common when the thyroid isn’t working properly. Expect late or early periods, an inconsistent cycle and symptoms such as heavy bleeding or a very light period. Ovulation is affected too, negatively impacting hormone balance overall.

An under-functioning thyroid can also affect fertility; for those undergoing assisted fertility, such as IVF, patients will require medical intervention for the thyroid to achieve a successful IVF cycle. Major sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone have a tight-knit relationship with the thyroid. The female brain, heart, metabolism, mood and bone health rely on the thyroid gland to function efficiently.

In the early weeks of pregnancy, the fetus is solely reliant on the mother carrying the child’s thyroid until it can grow and develop its own little thyroid. Without a healthy thyroid, the baby cannot continue to grow. Research and clinical experience have shown that adolescent females should have their development nurtured to avoid thyroid issues developing in their teens and 20’s.

In perimenopause, the thyroid can become particularly delicate and it’s a common time for thyroid issues to develop, often following a woman into her full menopause. Undiagnosed, untreated or under treated thyroid dysfunction will make menopause more challenging. In female health, if you want energy and vitality, then you need to love your thyroid and take care of it.

Is thyroid testing important?

Yes! Running a complete thyroid panel which includes Vitamin D is really important. Unfortunately, the thyroid is often overlooked until symptoms are intense and severe. Think of your thyroid like running a car, you will start to see issues with the engine (warning signs) before you break down on the side of the road. Only caring for the thyroid once it’s in a very poor state is reactionary medicine.

Most doctors run thyroid tests that don’t cover all the thyroid markers (usually only TSH and T4) and the details of thyroid hormone results can be overlooked. This is why it is important to work with someone who is thyroid literate and has been trained to examine thyroid results and explain what the results mean. A thyroid literate practitioner will also be able to recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to improve thyroid function.

Thyroid and Adrenal Support

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