Thyroid and Menopause

During the onset of menopause, many women experience symptoms such as insomnia, mood swings, depression and fatigue. However, these symptoms are also the hallmarks of thyroid disorder. Because the symptoms are so similar, many women who think they are just experiencing menopause may not seek medical advice about the possibility of a thyroid disorder. Therefore, what becomes important is knowing the differences between a dysfunctional thyroid and menopause.

Is It Thyroid Disease or Menopause?

You can judge whether you have thyroid disease or menopause from the following standards.

1.   Age

Many women begin to experience menopause between the ages of 45 to 52, although the age range may vary, occurring sooner or later in life for some. However, the age range for the symptoms of thyroid disorders is much wider. Usually, low activity of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) and overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) can occur in women anywhere from 35 to 65 years of age.

2.   Aches and Pains

Although aches and pains over multiple areas of your body can be associated with both thyroid disease and menopause, there are some distinct differences. While menopause typically causes breast tenderness, muscle tension, and joint pains, thyroid disorders can cause a fluid buildup (edema) in the hands, arms and legs.

3.   Hair Loss

Another condition associated with both a dysfunctional thyroid and menopause is hair loss. Menopause typically results in female pattern hair loss to the head and pubic areas, whereas hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause the possible loss of eyelash and eyebrow hair as well.

4.   Other Differences

Constipation is more of a hallmark of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is also uniquely known for causing visual disturbances, anemia, and cold intolerance.

How to Distinguish Them with Test

The best way to distinguish a dysfunctional thyroid and menopause is test. Women who are experiencing the symptoms of menopause should not hesitate to discuss the issues with their doctors. If you feel that the measures you have taken are not helping with your symptoms, then you may want to check your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels to determine a possible diagnosis for hypothyroidism. When testing for menopause, your doctor will check the levels of a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to help determine your estrogen levels.

How to Treat Thyroid Disease During Menopause

1.   Rebalance the Thyroid Levels

Women who receive estrogen treatments for menopause are at a greater risk for developing hypothyroidism. Depending on the severity, you may need to take thyroid supplement or medications. The common medications are Natural Thyroid 1 (NT1), Natural Thyroid 2 (NT2) and synthetic forms like Levoxyl, Synthroid or Levothroid.

2.   Have Progesterone Treatment

Progesterone treatment is recommended for women having thyroid during menopause. Increased progesterone in the body can improve thyroid uptake, which will help alleviate the symptoms of thyroid imbalance, such as depression and mood swings. Provera is sometimes prescribed for thyroid issues, but it may cause some side effects such as bloating, fatigue and unexplained anger.

3.   Try Healing Herbs

Many women with thyroid and menopause conditions are interested in knowing which herbs can help restore their health back to normal. Medicinal herbs can help balance all the different hormones in ways that support a healthy thyroid. Herbs such as ashwagandha, hops, bacopa, and sage may help support a healthy metabolism as well as the thyroid throughout the body.

4.   Restore Thyroid Function with Foods

Altering your diet could help ensure your thyroid hormone doesn’t become a problem during menopause. Foods containing higher amounts of vitamin B, such as wild fish, root vegetables, seaweeds, whole grains, sprouted seeds and nuts, help keep thyroid hormone levels normal. Copious amounts of vitamin D are also important; you can get it from foods or directly from sunlight.

How to Manage Menopause

Follow these tips to go through your menopause more easily and calmly.

1.   Healthy Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will go a long way to improving your overall health. Alcohol and caffeine should be limited or consumed in moderation, and if you smoke, quit. Have regular aerobic exercise to keep your weight in check, and make sure you are consuming around 700 mg of calcium per day.

2.   Herbs

Herbs can offset some symptoms of menopause, such as soy. Soy contains phytoestrogens which are just like estrogens in your body. Other herbs containing the plant estrogens include wild yam, black cohosh, valerian root, and dong quai. Be sure to discuss any natural or herbal products with your doctor before taking them. Make sure you tell the doctor any medication you are taking to avoid any adverse complications when used in combination with herbs.

3.   HRT

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be a very effective treatment to help relieve the symptoms of menopause while preventing and reversing bone loss. It is especially effective in the control of following symptoms:

  • Bladder and vaginal symptoms
  • Hot flashes and/or night sweats
  • Abrupt mood swings
  • Depression
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