If you have a thyroid problem and you are approaching menopause, it’s important to pay close attention to any changes you might be experiencing in your body. Whether you already have your thyroid problem under control or you’re still exploring options to manage symptoms, it’s likely that your treatment plan will significantly change as your hormone levels begin to shift in perimenopause.
The thyroid is a key component in regulating hormones produced in the endocrine system, a network of glands that are responsible for basic bodily functions such as metabolism, temperature, mood, libido, and sleep. As women enter the perimenopause phase of their lives, estrogen levels start to fluctuate resulting in irregular menstrual cycles, mood changes, hot flashes, and abnormal sleep patterns. These symptoms closely mirror functions of the body regulated by the thyroid, therefore it’s beneficial to properly prepare for menopause when you already have a thyroid problem.
Menopause is the body’s way of shifting into a state of infertility so in the earliest stages, a woman’s ovaries slowly decrease progesterone output. Usually progesterone and estrogen levels are produced in harmony so as progesterone drops, estrogen becomes the dominate female sex hormone. Raised estrogen levels trigger symptoms that mirror those of a patient with hypothyroidism. Additionally, an overload of estrogen can send signals to the liver to increase a protein known as TGB (thyroid binding globulin). As TGB protein binds to thyroid hormones T3 and T4, the body’s cells can no longer absorb T3 and T4 adequately and utilize these hormones as needed.
Because the thyroid health and menopause are so interconnected, tuning into your body and taking steps to prepare for menopause can help ease the transition.
Ask your doctor to get tested
Even if you and your doctor have found a successful treatment plan for your thyroid, menopause can quickly offset it’s effectiveness. Levels present in prior testing can drastically change upon perimenopause so recheck hormone levels with a full panel of testing. Having information about how your body is stimulating thyroid hormone production or how your body might be handling any inflammation is valuable in treatment moving forward.
Your liver has an important job to do as it expunges excess estrogen during menopause. Support this hard working organ with a daily dose of B6, B12, and fiber. Antioxidant rich foods with glutathione help cells to release free radicals within the body; avocado, walnuts and cruciferous vegetables are all excellent sources of glutathione.
Commit to health eating
Nourish your body by including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and good sources of protein in your diet. Vitamin D, selenium, and DHA help thyroid production and hormone absorption into the body.
Women who enter perimenopause with a history of elevated stress can have a more difficult time with the transition into menopause. While it is unreasonable to completely eliminate stress from our lives, finding strategies to cope with stressful events can make a significantly positive impact on your health. Your endocrine system will be less burdened and more functional when stress is under control. Practices such as mindfulness, meditation, and moderate exercise are great stress management tools.
Points to remember about today’s article:
- Menopause and thyroid health are interconnected.
- Hormone levels can fluctuate with periomenopause so prior treatment plans that were once effective may need to be restructured as your body enters this phase of change.
- Having your doctor run a full panel of testing can give you a better picture of your current hormone levels since numbers can look drastically different compared to prior test results.
- Develop a plan with your doctor that is unique to your needs and supports your body’s transition into menopause.
- Consider nutrition and stress management as part of your treatment plan.
Dr. Hagmeyer has worked with many patients with a history of thyroid problems and who are approaching menopause. Please contact our office today so we can help you prepare for menopause and stay healthy through this transition.
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