Thyroid Function or Dysfunction…Why it Matters

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Did you know that Synthroid, a medication used to treat an underactive thyroid, is one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States?

And, did you know that thyroid issues impact women much more commonly than men — eight times more, in fact? We need our thyroid for energy production (wonder why you’re so darn tired?) and metabolism (wonder why diets don’t work anymore?).

Hormonally, women are complicated. Believe me, I know! Turns out, there’s a lot of hormonal stuff needed for a woman’s body to make eggs, carry a fetus, deliver a baby and deal with everything else that it takes to survive. These hormones have a direct impact on our thyroid gland and how it functions, and when those hormones are going through big fluctuations, trouble can occur.

There are several times during a woman’s life span when these changes happen more prevalently, and hypothyroidism becomes more of an issue: after pregnancy, during perimenopause and after menopause.

So, basically a woman’s whole adult life, right? Right. No wonder Synthroid is prescribed so often — we’re just trying to get through our lives.

Big changes in other hormone systems, like adrenal or sex hormones (that’s your estrogen, progesterone and testosterone), can lead to complications in the thyroid, but it can also go the other way, too. Thyroid issues can, in turn, impact your other hormone systems. It’s a web-like structure of hormones, with each hormonal system relying on the other — what impacts one system can lead to another issue upstream or downstream from where the original hormone imbalance occurred.

The good news is when the function of one of those systems improves it will help improve the other, so we may see an increase in thyroid function if we balance our other hormones and vice versa.

This leads to two important questions:

First, how do you know if you have an issue with your thyroid? There are several important symptoms to look for, including feeling cold (especially in the hands and feet), brittle hair and nails, hair loss, constipation, low energy, depression or difficulty losing weight. If you suspect you might have a thyroid imbalance, it’s important to complete a thorough lab panel. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is the usual marker checked when doctors test for thyroid function, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. We need to know how much thyroid hormone we are making and how much we are converting in our tissues. This conversion marker, T3, is up to five times more metabolically active and is very important when it comes to thyroid function. Another important aspect to note is that the majority of thyroid dysfunction is autoimmune in nature, which means our thyroid gland is attacking itself for some reason, so it’s also important to check antibodies when doing thyroid testing.

The second question is, how do you improve thyroid function? Well, there are many factors that impact your thyroid function, including stress, digestive and liver health, nutrient deficiencies, environmental toxins, infections, age and hormone balance.

As a woman, it can be tricky to find an answer to your health issues. Our bodies are pretty complicated, right? But I’m here to help you find the right path to improve thyroid function, hormone balance, and overall health and day-to-day vitality. Age really is just a number — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you’re not functioning optimally, it’s for a reason, not just because you’ve reached a certain age. Let’s dive deep together to find those underlying hormonal hurdles getting in your way.