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Impact of thyroid disease on the menstrual cycle

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The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. It produces thyroid hormone (TH), which regulates essential functions like metabolism, body temperature, heart rate, and growth. When the thyroid gland is functioning well, it produces the right amount of hormones for the body’s normal functioning. If the thyroid gland starts to produce too little or too much thyroid hormone, it is a problem. There can be many reasons for an underactive or overactive thyroid gland from stress, nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, pregnancy, and toxins in the environment. The female reproductive organ, i.e., ovaries and the thyroid gland both form a part of the endocrine system. Changes in one can influence the other. Thyroid problems are linked with unusually early or delayed puberty and menstruation in girls.

In the case of an underactive thyroid, the gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This condition is known as hypothyroidism. The common symptoms of hypothyroid are fatigue, weight gain, sensitivity to cold, constipation, hair thinning, etc. Hypothyroid can also affect the menstrual cycle in girls. The symptoms may range from heavy bleeding to irregular or absent periods. Heavy periods or menorrhagia can be quite disturbing and requires immediate medical assistance. If your periods are suddenly heavy, hypothyroid could be the potential reason. So visit a gynecologist and get your TSH, i.e., Thyroid Stimulating Hormone level checked. Due to weight gain, obesity is seen in hypothyroid patients, which can lead to missed or irregular periods.

When the thyroid is overactive and produces more hormones than the body’s requirements, it is called hyperthyroidism. It too can cause changes in the menstrual cycle. Hyperthyroid is linked with irregular and light menstrual cycles. Other symptoms of hyperthyroid are weight loss, trouble sleeping, restlessness, trembling in the hands, sweating, feeling hot, rapid heart rate, diarrhea, etc. 

Thyroid disease decreases fertility in women. It inhibits ovulation in girls and thus makes it difficult to get pregnant. Even when one conceives, there is a higher risk of miscarriage. Changes in your monthly periods can indicate thyroid problems. Thus, tracking the menstrual cycle and prominent PMS symptoms is crucial as it may provide vital information to the doctor about your ongoing health and well-being.

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