The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that is located at the level of the second and third ring of the trachea. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland affect almost all tissues and organs of man.
Menopause is a period of time in a woman’s life, when her periods stop, and she can no longer have children. When people talk about the symptoms of menopause, they often refer to symptoms associated with perimenopause – the transition to menopause.
When the thyroid gland produces too much or too little thyroid hormone, it can cause many different symptoms, some of which are very similar to those experienced by a woman during the menopause or perimenopause.
Estrogen and thyroid gland
Some of the symptoms of perimenopause are similar to symptoms of insufficient activity of the thyroid gland. Thyroid problems are much more common in women of childbearing age. This may be due to the relationship between thyroid function and estrogen – the main sex hormone in women. There is evidence that estrogen can have a direct effect on the cells of the thyroid gland.
Diagnosis of hypothyroidism and menopause
During the period of perimenopause, the level of estrogen is significantly reduced, which undoubtedly affects the level of thyroid hormones. However, further research is needed to determine the relationship.
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between symptoms of hypothyroidism and menopause, since they are very similar. The transition to menopause often begins at the age of 45 – 55 years. Thyroid disease can begin at any age.
A blood test will help diagnose both hypothyroidism and menopause. A doctor can conduct a laboratory test to finally diagnose if a woman experiences menopausal symptoms, or she has hypothyroidism.
A blood test helps determine the level of the following hormones:
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
FSH is responsible for inducing ovulation maturation and ovulation in the ovary. As a woman grows old, the body produces more FSH. Constantly elevated levels of FSH – more than 30 mIU / ml per milliliter indicates the climacterium.
Luteinizing hormone (LH)
LH rises after menopause. Typically, women have a high level of LH in the middle of the menstrual cycle, which causes ovulation, so the increased importance does not finally indicate menopause.
Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
Determining the level of TSH is often the first test that the doctor prescribes to see how the thyroid gland works. If the thyroid gland is not active, the body produces TSH to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. A high level of TSH may indicate an insufficient activity of the thyroid gland.
Hormones T3 and T4
These are the two main hormones that are produced by the thyroid gland. The levels do not change significantly with insufficient thyroid activity, but doctors do the test to rule out other thyroid diseases.
Definition of antibodies to thyroid cells
The thyroid gland contains cells, sometimes the body starts producing antibodies against these proteins. This can lead to a decrease or increase in the activity of the thyroid gland. If these antibodies are present, the doctor can diagnose Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroiditis).
When to see a doctor
Some women take substitution therapy to reduce symptoms associated with perimenopause. Most women do not have any problems with the thyroid after taking substitution therapy. However, women who are already taking drugs for the thyroid gland should adjust the dose. It is important to recheck the thyroid hormone levels from time to time, especially if a woman experiences symptoms associated with thyroid disorder or menopause.
Health problems associated with menopause and thyroid gland:
Decreased estrogen may increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones of a person become weaker and are prone to fracture. Regular bone density screening can help detect osteoporosis. In addition, a diet rich in calcium, and taking calcium supplements can strengthen the health of bones.
Women in periods of menopause and with insufficient activity of the thyroid gland may find that they are gaining weight. Weight gain is also very common with age. It is important to increase activity and reduce food intake, so as not to gain excess weight.
Untreated hypothyroidism can lead to serious health complications, including high cholesterol, heart disease and depression.
In the treatment and control of thyroid hormones, the prognosis for a person with thyroid hypothyroidism is favorable. This condition is easily controlled with medications. Symptoms of menopause can cause some discomfort for several years, but this is a natural transition.
The relationship between insufficient activity of the thyroid gland and menopause is quite complex and has many factors. The symptoms of each of these states can be very similar and sometimes interact in a way that can increase their severity.
Santin A. P., Furlanetto T. W. Role of estrogen in thyroid function and growth regulation // Journal of Thyroid Research. – 2011. – T. 2011.