What Women Should Know About Thyroid Health

Although a small gland, the thyroid impacts almost every organ in the body and plays a key role in women’s reproductive health. Located at the base of the neck, the thyroid is responsible for releasing thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which are collectively known as “thyroid hormone.” Our bodies use thyroid hormones to control and regulate bodily functions, such as metabolism (converting food into energy) and the development of reproductive tissue. When not functioning properly, the thyroid is either producing too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism), or not enough hormone (hypothyroidism). In either case, metabolic and reproductive functioning is disrupted and can negatively affect a woman's well-being.

Symptoms of Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid issues are 5 to 8 more times likely to develop in women than men, affecting about 1 in 8 women. Because thyroid conditions are more common in women and can develop at any age, it is important to remain aware of the telltale signs of either a hyper or hypoactive thyroid.

Signs of hypothyroidism may include:

  • Tiredness
  • Weight gain
  • Dry and/or pale skin
  • Puffy face
  • Thinning hair
  • Slow heart rate
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain and/or weakness
  • Constipation
  • Feeling cold when others do not
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual cycles
  • A hoarse voice

Signs of hyperthyroidism:

  • Rapid, or irregular heartbeat
  • Weight loss
  • Increased energy/hyperactivity
  • Nervousness, anxiety, and irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling hot when others do not
  • Diarrhea / increased bowel movements
  • Low libido
  • Fewer and lighter periods

Symptoms for hyper and hypothyroidism can develop slowly over time, so you may not notice any differences at first. If you begin to notice any changes, make sure to write them down and bring the list to your provider. Many of these symptoms are common to other disorders, however, a simple blood test can help your physician determine whether there is an issue with your thyroid.

Thyroid Disorders and Female Reproduction

As mentioned earlier, the thyroid hormone is heavily involved in the female reproductive system, and therefore can create issues unique to women when there is an imbalance.

Both hypo and hyperactive thyroids have been found to disrupt ovulation, sometimes preventing the release of an egg altogether, resulting in both menstrual irregularities and fertility issues.

In some women, thyroid hormone imbalances can occur during pregnancy, which can have a negative impact on both the fetus and the mother. A deficiency of thyroid hormone has been found to cause miscarriages, preterm delivery, stillbirth, and postpartum hemorrhage. Those with an overactive thyroid during pregnancy may experience more morning sickness, high blood pressure, poor fetal growth, and premature delivery. It may be harder to identify thyroid issues while pregnant, given the higher levels of hormones and changes that occur naturally during pregnancy. Therefore it is important to talk to your doctor about proper hormonal testing.


Treatment for thyroid disorders will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the nature of your condition. Some options may include:


  • Daily hormone replacement tables (levothyroxine) are often prescribed for those with hypothyroidism
  • Antithyroid medicines block the thyroid from making new thyroid hormones and are prescribed to those with hyperthyroidism
  • Beta-blockers are prescribed to block the effects of thyroid hormone on the body and are typically given to those with hyperthyroidism


  • Radioiodine is a treatment that kills the cells that make thyroid hormones.


  • In some cases, your doctor may recommend the removal or partial removal of the thyroid

Scheduling an Appointment

Regular checkups and blood tests are key to catching subtle changes that may not present as noticeable symptoms. If you have an undiagnosed thyroid disorder or would like to learn more, contact your provider today.

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