Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Thyroid Problems in Women
Symptoms of Thyroid Problems in Women
Thyroid symptoms in women will differ according to thyroid levels. Whether it is low production of hormones or elevated thyroid levels, symptoms usually affect the menstrual cycle. These are explained below.
Abrupt changes in menstrual pattern is one of the common symptoms associated with thyroid disorders. During menstruation, women lose some amount of blood, which is quite normal. However, in hypothyroidism, heavy bleeding during menstruation is observed. This excessive blood loss during menstrual periods causes fatigue and overall weakness. Dry skin and irregular bowel movement are some of the other underactive thyroid symptoms in women.
Hyperthyroidism also interferes with normal menstrual cycle. In few cases, menstrual cycle temporarily stops, and the woman is likely to suffer from menopausal symptoms. However, usually women with hyperthyroidism suffer from light menstruation. Frequent bowel movement (diarrhea), sweating, weight loss and sleeping problems are some of the hyperactive thyroid symptoms.
What Causes Thyroid Problems in Women
What are the conditions that cause malfunctioning of the thyroid gland? Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Graves' disease are the conditions that produce damaging effects on the thyroid gland. These thyroid conditions as well as other causes of thyroid problems in women over 40 are given below:
Thyroid problems in women are linked to autoimmune disorders known as Graves' disease and Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In both these conditions, the thyroid gland has to face the brunt of immune system's invasion. Now, the thyroid gland is not strong enough to evade the immune system attack. The thyroid gland appears inflamed and it also loses its capability work properly. Swollen thyroid may either cause hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, depending upon the amount of damaged caused by the immune system.
Inappropriate use of medicines to treat hyperthyroidism (excess thyroid levels) is many a times the reason behind insufficient production of hormones. Although, anti-thyroid medicines does help to stabilize excess thyroid levels, when taken in large doses, it can permanently disable the thyroid gland, which may lead to hypothyroidism.
Surgical procedures involving removal of major part of the thyroid gland, can also cause thyroid problem in women that usually manifest in the form of inactive thyroid.
Thyroid Problems in Women and Weight Gain
Unexplained weight gain occurs in women who suffer from hypothyroidism. In hypothyroidism, reduction in creation of thyroid hormones is observed. As a result, the body is no longer able to regulate metabolic rate. To be more specific, in hypothyroidism metabolic rate slows down considerably. As we all know, metabolism is a process in which foods gets converted into energy. As the speed of metabolic rate reduces in hypothyroidism, energy production decreases and most of the food consumed is stored as fat deposits. This additional accumulated fat eventually leads to weight gain.
Thyroid Problems in Women After Pregnancy
Either of the thyroid disorders discussed below can occur after pregnancy. Around 5% of women suffer from thyroid problems after pregnancy. After giving birth to a baby, the new mother may show presence of swollen thyroid. The abnormal inflammation interferes with the normal functioning of the thyroid and eventually causes too much or too little production of thyroid gland.
Treatment for thyroid problems in women aims at stabilizing thyroid levels. After diagnosing the type of thyroid disorder, doctors will prescribe appropriate medications to restore thyroid levels. For hyperthyroidism, anti-thyroid medications are recommended that helps to slow down thyroid activity. On the other hand, women diagnosed with hypothyroidism are asked to take thyroid pills to enhance thyroid function.