How Do I Know if I Have a Thyroid Problem?
At menopause thyroid issues become more common, so here’s what to look for.
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck, along the front of your windpipe.
It makes hormones that help control many parts of your metabolism, like how fast your heart beats and how fast you burn calories.
About 1 in 8 women are affected and much more likely to have a problem with their thyroid than men
The most common issues with the thyroid are hypothyroidism, when the gland doesn’t make enough hormones, and hyperthyroidism, when it makes too many.
Symptoms of high thyroid – hyperthyroidism
This is not as common in women at menopause and can be hard to know that you have hyperthyroidism because its symptoms are a lot like those of other conditions. They can include:
- Larger appetite than usual
- Sudden weight loss, even though you’re eating the same amount of food or more
- Fast or uneven heartbeat or sudden pounding of your heart (palpitations)
- Nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
- Trembling in your hands and fingers
- Changes in your period
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Changes in bowel movements, especially more frequent ones
- Swelling at the base of your neck
- Feeling tired or like your muscles are weak
- Trouble sleeping
- Thinner skin
- Fine, brittle hair
For hyperthyroidism, your doctor will see if your thyroid gland is bigger than it should be or if your pulse is too fast. They also look for a tremor in your fingers when you hold them out straight.
They will do a blood test to check your thyroid hormone levels.
It’s rare, but you also could have Graves’ ophthalmopathy. It’s a condition that makes your eyes red and swollen to the point that they seem to bulge. This also can cause blurred or double vision, tearing, and discomfort, and can make you more sensitive to light. If you are a smoker you are more likely to have this.
Symptoms of low thyroid – hypothyroidism
This is the one most frequently seen at menopause, usually in women between the ages of 40 – 50, and for which medication such as Thyroxine is often given.
Unfortunately symptoms are often ignored during the early stages by both patients and doctors as they are both common, and can relate to both age and menopause.
Dr Thierry Hertoghe, President of the International Hormone Society, which is the third largest hormone society in the world with over 2,300 physicians as members, states that, in his opinion, thyroid deficiency is 20 – 50 people in every 100
The signs can be different for everyone, and you may not notice any early on. But low levels of thyroid hormones eventually can slow down some of your body’s systems. You may:
- Feel cold
- Get tired more easily
- Have dry skin
- Be constipated
- Be forgetful
- Feel down or depressed
- Weight gain
- Increase in cholesterol level
- Muscle weakness
- Thinning hair
A simple blood test to check your thyroid’s hormone levels is all that’s needed to find out if you have hypothyroidism.
The pioneer of bioidentical hormone use, the late John Lee, MD, used bioidentical natural progesterone to correct low thyroid as he had noticed a number of his menopausal women patients had thyroid deficiency.
He found in his own practice that when their hormones were rebalanced it was often found that it was common to see their need for medication reduced, but this should always be monitored by your doctor.
It is perfectly safe to use bioidentical progesterone such as Serenity when taking medications such as thyroxine and there is no constrain diction from the research or published literature on bioidentical progesterone, that there is any problem with doing so.