How Do I Know if I Have a Thyroid Problem?

At menopause thyroid issues become more common, so here’s what to look for.


At menopause women tend to look for the common and obvious signs of change such as weight gain, poor sleep, hot flushes and a more challenging libido.

However it is quite common for women going through menopause to also have an underactive thyroid.

What is it?

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 we are much more likely to have a problem with the thyroid than men do.

The two 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 low thyroid – hypothyroidism

This is the one most frequently seen at menopause and for which medication such as Thyroxine is often prescribed.

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.

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 and these are some of the signs:

  • 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
  • Hoarseness


A simple blood test to check your thyroid’s hormone levels is all that’s needed to find out if you have hypothyroidism.

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 and 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
  • Sweating
  • 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.

Helpful information: 

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.

Progesterone supports thyroid function and 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.

Diet is often an issue that can help with thyroid problems, but did you realise that exercise can also make a difference? This article can give you some more help with that.