Thyroid Disorders in Women
The thyroid is a gland that controls the rate of metabolism in the human body. When this gland behaves erratically by being either underactive or overactive, it can have devastating effects on your health and well-being. Unfortunately, women are more likely to experience a thyroid imbalance than men because the thyroid gland is especially sensitive to hormonal fluctuations, which are more common in women.
Types of Thyroid Disorders Commonly Experienced by Women
There are a few main types of thyroid disorders that are more common in women. These include:
- Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce the appropriate number of hormones required to keep the body running normally. Symptoms of this thyroid condition include fatigue, weight gain, memory problems and depression.
- Hyperthyroidism. This common thyroid disorder can occur when the thyroid gland produces too many hormones. Symptoms of this disorder include irritability, nervousness, weight loss despite increased appetite, rapid heartbeat, and muscle weakness.
- Goiters. Another thyroid disorder that is more common in women than men are goiters, which occur when a woman's thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones coupled with a lack of dietary iodine. The primary symptom of this disorder is the telltale swelling of the neck, which can make it difficult to swallow or breathe normally. Women suffering from goiters may also experience a hoarse voice and protruding eyes.
Treatment Is Important
If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, the first step is to get it under control. The second step is to make sure that you are doing everything possible to prevent the disorder from coming back. If you are experiencing symptoms of a thyroid disorder, please see your doctor right away for diagnosis and treatment. Depending on the disorder, treatment may involve use of synthetic thyroid hormones, antithyroid medications, radioactive iodine, or surgery.
If left untreated, thyroid disorders can cause long-term health problems. Some of the common thyroid-related health problems women can face include:
- Menstrual issues. Your thyroid helps control your menstrual cycle. Excessive or insufficient thyroid hormones can make periods noticeably light, very heavy, or irregular. Thyroid disease may also cause a condition called amenorrhea, where your period stops for months or longer.
- Infertility. When thyroid disease impacts the menstrual cycle, it also influences ovulation. This might make pregnancy more difficult to achieve and sustain.
- Pregnancy issues. When a woman experiences thyroid issues throughout pregnancy, this may cause both mother and baby health problems. For example, an underactive thyroid can cause low birth weight.
It is important to speak with a doctor right away if you think you may be experiencing a thyroid issue. Early diagnosis and treatment are key for preventing long-term health problems.