Can Thyroid Problems Affect Your Periods?

Can Thyroid Problems Affect Your Periods?

The characteristics of your menstrual cycle say a lot about your overall health. Changes in periods, including how heavy the flow is, the consistency, and how long they last give us important clues about the state of your reproductive system.

Our extensive team of specialists at Women’s Health Services in Arlington, Texas, explain one of the many culprits behind irregular periods — your thyroid gland.

Get to know your thyroid

Your thyroid is a small gland with a big job. It’s shaped like a butterfly and sits at the lower part of your throat. Its main functions are regulating your metabolism and heartbeat — no small task. If your thyroid malfunctions in any way, it has repercussions that affect your whole body, and irregular periods may be one of the first signs that something is wrong. 

How does a gland that controls how fast your heart beats and how you burn calories affect your menstrual cycle? Let’s find out.

How your thyroid affects your periods

Your thyroid produces hormones — chemical messengers that travel throughout your body and deliver critical instructions that ensure your body functions properly. Too many or too few thyroid hormones confuse the system and throw other hormones out of whack as well, including your reproductive hormones, which can easily affect your menstrual cycle. 

Hypothyroidism — underproduction of thyroid hormones — can lead to:

Hyperthyroidism — overproduction of thyroid hormones — can lead to:

Here’s a closer look at the specific relationship between your thyroid and your periods.

Thyroid problems can lead to heavy periods

Periods that are so heavy you have to wear two pads at a time, make you change your tampon every hour for several consecutive hours, last more than a week, or produce clots bigger than the diameter of a quarter are considered heavy periods.

Hypothyroidism may be the underlying cause, but heavy periods are also a sign of other health conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fibroids, and uterine cancer, so it’s important to come see us for a professional diagnosis.

Thyroid problems can lead to infrequent periods or no periods at all

If you have trouble predicting your periods because they never come when they should, you have an irregular cycle that can trigger several complications. And if you don’t get periods at all, the problem may be even more complicated. 

When your thyroid is the underlying problem, there’s a chain of events that occurs before you ever notice the menstrual symptoms: high thyroid-releasing hormone (TRH) triggers your pituitary gland to release prolactin. Prolactin affects your ovaries’ ability to make estrogen, and finally, low estrogen affects your menstrual cycle (among other functions). 

Thyroid problems can lead to fertility challenges

When your thyroid malfunctions and affects your reproductive system, one of the main problems it causes is the prevention of ovulation. If you don’t ovulate regularly, it can be very difficult to get pregnant, and if you don’t ovulate at all, it can be impossible to get pregnant without medical intervention.

Treating thyroid issues and restoring regular periods

The good news is that irregular periods triggered by hormone imbalances, including thyroid hormone imbalances, are easily treated with hormone therapy. 

If your thyroid is damaged, you’ll likely need to take thyroid hormone pills for the rest of your life, but they are safe and effective and can restore your normal periods and your overall health.

To find out if your thyroid may be the culprit behind your irregular periods, schedule an appointment at either of our two Arlington offices by calling our friendly staff or booking online. Predictable, normal periods may be just a phone call away.

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