Does Hypothyroidism Affect Female Hormones?
Posted on 08 May 2020
The thyroid gland in our body, located at the base of the throat region controls several functions in the body such as cell repair and metabolism. Along with such important functions, it also has a major role to play in your reproductive health. Especially in case of women, thyroid hormones affect the functioning of the reproductive system as well. They affect the ovaries and interfere with globulin protein that binds the sex hormones. It has been seen that hypothyroidism causes imbalance in female hormones and causes several irregularities in reproductive health. In case you are having problems with your menstrual cycle or with your reproductive health, the root cause may be lying in your thyroid gland.
Female Reproductive Hormones and Their Functions
The main female hormones produced in the body are oestrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone and prolactin.
- Oestrogen is responsible for regulating ovulation and menstrual cycles in females. It is secreted by the ovaries and helps in the growth of the egg follicles and their release every month. Oestrogen is also responsible for maintaining the thickness of the vaginal wall and promoting lubrication and flow of uterine mucus.
- Progesterone regulates the inner lining of the wall of the uterus. It thickens the uterus every month to prepare it for implantation of the fertilized egg. It also prevents the wall of the uterus from contracting to keep the fertilized egg implanted in its place. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone stops maintaining the wall of the uterus and it breaks down through menstrual flow.
- Prolactin hormone is mainly responsible for milk production in pregnant women.
- Luteinizing hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland in the body and it is responsible for the production of oestrogen and progesterone. In fact, luteinizing hormone helps to stimulate the ovaries to secrete oestrogen and progesterone in normal levels.
What Happens in Case of Hypothyroidism?
In case of hypothyroidism, low levels of thyroid hormones have a great impact on the production of female hormones in the body. Hypothyroidism causes a decrease in the production of oestrogen, progesterone and luteinizing hormone. However, in case of prolactin, there may be an abnormal increase in its levels when thyroid hormones begin to decrease in the body.
- As mentioned already, hypothyroidism can lead to rise in levels of prolactin hormone in the body and result in galactorrhea and hyperprolactinemia causing abnormal lactation in non-pregnant women, change in menstrual flow, lack of libido, pain in breasts and irregular periods. There may also be a condition called hypogonadotropism or hypogonadism because of fall in the levels of gonadotrophin releasing hormone as well. This leads to further drop in the production of sex hormones.
- Lack of oestrogen production in the body due to hypothyroidism reduces the capability of the ovaries to ovulate. This leads to irregular ovulation or complete lack of ovulation causing irregular periods, missed periods and infertility. Also, the oestrogen may build up in the body as during hypothyroidism, the liver is not able to process the hormone. Oestrogen build up thus causes weight gain, breast pain and tenderness, anxiety, depression, mood swings, low libido and fatigue.
- Fall in the levels ofesterone helps in lining the wall of the uterus to prepare it for implantation of the fertilized egg and its maintenance, lack of it can result in failure to conceive or retain pregnancy. It may lead to early miscarriage in women. One of the reasons of infertility can be low levels of progesterone in the body due to hypothyroidism.
Female Reproductive Problems Related to Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones in the body. This can result in a number of issues regarding female reproductive health and result in a lot of abnormalities. Some of them are:-
- Heavy menstrual bleeding-
Heavy menstrual bleeding may be caused by several reasons like fibroids and PCOS; hypothyroidism is a major cause behind it. Women suffering from excessively heavy and prolonged periods may be actually suffering from low thyroid hormones in the body which in turn is affecting period flow. Visit a gynaecologist at the earliest if you are experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding. Your doctor may ask you to go through a pelvic examination and a TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test to detect the cause.
- Absent or very less periods-
Women may also suffer from amenorrhea or absent periods and oligomenorrhea or less and infrequent periods at times. Among several other reasons resulting in these two disorders, one of them may be hypothyroidism. Thus, while low thyroid hormones can result in excessive menstrual bleeding, they may also cause total absence of periods or make them irregular and infrequent. They may not occur every month and may appear after long intervals. Women with hypothyroidism have high Thyroid Releasing Hormone (TRH) levels which in turn result in excess release of prolactin hormone from the pituitary gland. Prolactin interferes with oestrogen secretion from the ovaries and therefore causes absence and infrequency in periods. Prolactin is mainly a hormone that is released in pregnant women and thus, excess levels can cause a milky discharge from your breasts. Absence of regular menstrual cycles also leads to symptoms of early menopause, vaginal dryness, infertility and lack of sexual drive.
Since hypothyroidism affects ovulation and inhibits the secretion of oestrogen in the body, it may also lead to infertility. Lack of ovulation can make it difficult for you to get pregnant. In fact, pregnant women with hypothyroidism may also have the risk of suffering a miscarriage. In such cases you may be advised to have thyroid hormone replacement medicines to increase chances of pregnancy and prevent miscarriage.
- Menopause and related complications-
Hypothyroidism results in menopause like symptoms in some women. While menopause is a normal occurrence in middle aged women and hypothyroidism is common in them too, it may occur at an early age too. Lack of production of female hormones like oestrogen and failure to ovulate leads to menopausal symptoms in women like lack of periods, thinning of hair, weight changes and mood swings. Hypothyroidism can also worsen the symptoms of menopause. Many women therefore benefit after they receive thyroid treatment.
There are also other complications related to menopause which may be aggravated by hypothyroidism. One of them is low bone density or osteoporosis. Women who are already suffering from lack of strength and weak bones are in high risk zones. Similarly, menopause also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases which can further worsen if you have hypothyroidism.
Therefore, it is advised to women that any changes in your menstrual cycle or any abnormality that continues for more than two months should immediately be reported to a doctor. Contact a gynaecologist and discuss all the abnormalities and related symptoms to get a proper diagnosis done. Often, the root cause of all such problems with the reproductive system is hypothyroidism. Your failure to conceive may also be related to major problems with the thyroid gland. However, there is no need to worry at all. Proper, timely treatments along with a good diet can ensure you a completely normal life. Also, remember to embrace herbal wellness by choosing natural, herbal products as much as you can to correct hormonal imbalances and promote overall well being. Buy thyroid tea online, developed by Teatox life. It restores the hormonal imbalance and regains the normal functioning of thyroid.