Thyroid disorders are eight times more likely in women, than in men, and according to some experts women over 35, have a 30% chance of developing hypothyroidism. This article points out, that in India 42 million people suffer from thyroid disorders, and about a third of hypothyroidism patients are unaware of the condition.
It sneaks up on you
The symptoms of thyroid disorders like fatigue and wieght gain are rather vague. Some other symptoms can be confused with perimenopause, since both these conditions usually occur around the same age in many women.
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland at the base of the neck. It secretes the thyroid hormone, which serves many purposes including regulating metabolism and the menstrual cycle.
Hypo & Hyper thyroidism
The thyroid hormone is required by the body in just the right Goldilocks amount. Deviations in hormone production in either direction can cause problems. When the hormone secreted by the thyroid gland is insufficient, the condition is called hypothyroidism, and when the gland secretes too much of the hormone, the condition is called hyperthyroidism. These two conditions have somewhat opposite symptoms.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include tiredness, slow heart rate, weight gain, cold shivers, unusually heavy menstrual bleeding, dry skin and hair. Hypothyroidism increases the risk of heart disease.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include irritability, increased appetite, increased and irregular heart rate, weight loss, sweating, fewer or lighter than usual menstrual periods. Hyperthyroidism increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Both conditions can be treated with medication, though in case of hyper thyroidism surgery or radio-iodine treatment may be required.
Since the thyroid hormone can influence the balance of hormones that cause ovulation, both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can make it harder to get pregnant.
Thyroiditis and pregnancy
Thyroiditis is the inflammation of the thyroid gland and is 3 to 5 times more likely to be found in women. It is usually an autoimmune condition, but can be due to infection as well.
Postpartum thyroiditis is seen among 5 to 10 percent of women post child birth. It typically occurs in 2 stages. Initially, in the first four months, it manifests as hyperthyroidism, and then in the next stage at hypothyroidism. The treatment depends on the phase of the disease.
Postpartum thyroiditis may be a temporary condition, and in some cases may escape diagnosis, as the symptoms can be confused with baby blues. In some cases, postpartum thyroiditis can lead to permanent hypothyroidism and may require life long medication.
Thyroid nodules are lumps that are found in an otherwise normal thyroid gland and are three times more common among women. They are usually asymptomatic and benign and sometimes just cysts. In fact, 95% of all thyroid nodules are non-cancerous.
Most women over the age of 55 have at least one thyroid nodule. If a non-cancerous thyroid nodule is causing hyperthyroidism, it can be surgically removed to sort out the problem. Most thyroid nodules do not require any treatment, however, this website has detailed information on when treatments may be required and what those treatments would be.
Thyroid cancer is less depressing than it sounds. You can read about it in my post about cancers. There is something rather special about the thyroid, that makes this particular cancer easier to treat than many others. It can often be treated without the dreaded chemotherapy.
I am thrilled to be participating in the A to Z blogging challenge 2018.