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The connection between PCOS and Hypothyroidism

female uterus and ovaries abstract transparent design

PCOS, or Polycystic ovary syndrome, is a hormonal disorder that is commonly seen in women of reproductive age.

Women who are affected by PCOS have excess androgen (male) hormone or prolonged or infrequent menstrual periods. The ovaries develop many small collections of follicles and fail to release eggs regularly.

What is the connection between PCOS and Thyroid Disorders?

According to studies, over 22.5% of women with PCOS suffer from hypothyroidism. If a woman is suffering from PCOS, there is a greater risk of her developing a thyroid disorder. But, the exact link between the two issues has not been understood entirely.

Both share the same root (hormonal imbalance) and some symptoms as well, which makes it important to check the thyroid health of women suffering from PCOS. Some of these common symptoms include abnormal hair growth and missing periods mostly.

PCOS, hypothyroidism, and sex hormone binding globulin

Women with PCOS tend to have lower levels of SHBG. This can be a problem because the SHBG renders the free testosterone in the blood inactive. Therefore, if the amount of SHBG becomes less, it means there will be more testosterone in the body, and that will worsen the symptoms of PCOS.

The thyroid hormone is responsible for increasing the levels of SHBG. Hence, if you suffer from a thyroid disorder, the PCOS symptoms will be harder to control, according to these studies.

Treatment options

Before getting into the treatment, it is important to know what hypothyroidism is and what its symptoms are.

Hypothyroidism and its symptoms

This condition occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Lack of the thyroid gland slows down the body a lot and weakens it. Women suffering from hypothyroidism suffer from symptoms like:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Lack of ovulation, which can lead to infertility
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Decreased libido
  • Skin issues
  • Constipation
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Lethargy

Hypothyroidism is often treated by hormone replacement therapy, which can result in the thyroid hormones reaching their proper levels.

For PCOS patients with hypothyroidism, Metformin is often prescribed because the diabetes drug helps in the fall and normalization of TSH significantly without causing any other reciprocal change in the other functions of the thyroid gland.

Both type of thyroid disorders, hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism, can be fought and corrected by maintaining a balanced diet. Regular exercising also helps in maintaining your overall health. Such prevention steps will keep a check on the hormonal levels and will bring it back to normal.

How do you know if a thyroid disorder is causing PCOS?

Commonly, patients with symptoms of either PCOS or a thyroid problem will first go through a blood test, which will determine the levels of thyroid hormone. The doctor will screen for three main hormones in the blood, called T4, T3, and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. These three hormones work together for optimal health and are the best to analyze if the person is suffering from a thyroid disorder or not.

Although it is easy to point PCOS for both types of thyroid disorders in women, it should be remembered that PCOS is not the only thing that causes thyroid problems. Other factors like thyroid cancer, Hashimoto’s disease, or Grave’s disease can also cause abnormal levels of the thyroid hormone. Testing should not be stopped till the exact cause has been determined and the possible causes have been ruled out.

Is it possible to get rid of PCOS by treating thyroid problems?

Sadly, treating PCOS is more difficult than treating thyroid problems, even if both are related to each other in some ways. However, PCOS can be treated without medication in a way that can promote your overall health and without medication.

The influencing factor of PCOS is Insulin Resistance (IR), in which the cells of your body become resistant to the effects of insulin, thereby increasing the risk of many other disorders apart from PCOS, like cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes.

Insulin is very important for the body as it regulates the level of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in the body. If the insulin level increases and goes out of control, that individual has more chances of becoming a PCOS patient. Successfully managing PCOS entails a five-element natural therapy system:

  1. Balanced diet

Eating a balanced diet ensures your insulin level stays minimum. You need to stay away from food with too much sugar and simple carbohydrates. Instead, you can go for food items that are low on glycemic index and high on fiber.

  1. Exercising

Physical exercises can help fight disorders caused by PCOS, like heart diseases, high cholesterol, and weight gain. Going for an evening walk or working out in a gym every day is good enough.

  1. Intake of proper nutrients

Intake of nutrients and specifically targeted botanicals, minerals, and vitamins can help your body fight the effects of PCOS.

  1. Emotional support

Guidance and comfort are crucial in coping with PCOS. Reaching out to women who have fought PCOS can be a motivating and healing experience. Such interaction will help you fight this condition.

  1. Getting smart

Using resources to know and read about PCOS and IR can help you make informed choices about your condition and figure out how to beat the disorder.

As mentioned above, about 22.5% of women suffering from PCOS are more likely to have a thyroid problem. This makes the PCOS symptoms worse.

Hence, it is important that you get the levels of your thyroid hormone checked at least once every two years. Maintaining a good diet will help you fight PCOS and support your thyroid health.

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