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Exploring the Link Between Hypothyroidism and Female Reproductive Health

Updated: Apr 15

When you think thyroid, what is the first thing you think about?

For many it's metabolism. One of the thyroid gland's main jobs is controlling metabolic rate. However, keep in mind, metabolism is the sum of all reactions in the body that provide the body with energy for LIFE!  

In addition, every cell in your body has a thyroid hormone receptor- that should say a lot!

Understanding this, you can see how the health of your thyroid has downstream effects on your digestion, blood sugar, temperature regulation, gallbladder and liver function, cholesterol and lipid metabolism, steroid hormone production, heart and more.

The effects are also bidirectional. The thyroid gland primarily secretes Thyroxin ( T4 ), known as the primary thyroid hormone and it is the most abundant thyroid hormone. However T4 is considered to be largely metabolically inactive and the body must convert T4 to triiodothyronine (T3), a process that occurs in the liver, gut and peripheral tissues. You can think of Free T3 as the active thyroid hormone as it is unbound and “free," making it available for easy utilization at the tissue level.

 Just as the thyroid affects other organs, impaired liver, kidney and gut function can lead to thyroid issues. For example, when gut health is compromised due to infections, or if stomach acid is low (low thyroid function is also a cause of hypothyroid) and you aren’t able to absorb some key nutrients such as zinc and selenium T4 may not adequately convert to T3 as these are two key minerals in that conversion process. 

It is imperative that we consider the body as a whole when addressing any health concerns and understand these nuances to create comprehensive solutions. 

For the purpose of today’s blog, let’s dive into how a dysfunctional thyroid can affect your hormones and fertility. 

Hypothyroidism and Female Reproductive Health

The presence of hypothyroidism, or an under functioning thyroid has steadily increased in the United States since 2009, and many of those increased cases are subclinical. In addition,  women are 5-8x as likely as men to develop a thyroid condition. As Coaches, hypothyroidism or an under functioning thyroid and the symptoms associated do commonly present in the women we work with. 

You can have a thyroid that slows down and isn't functionally as optimally as it could be without having a hypothyroid diagnosis. Comprehensive testing and evaluating results through a functional health lens can help us identify if that is the case for you.

Some Common Symptoms of Hypothyroid Include: 

  • Feeling Cold/Cold intolerance 

  • Fatigue

  • Dry Skin

  • Hair loss 

  • Constipation 

  • Brain Fog

  • Trouble Sleeping

  • Anxiety/Depression

  • Difficulty losing weight

  • Elevated Cholesterol

  • Low libido

  • Menstrual Irregularities 

Menstrual Cycle Irregularities and Thyroid Health

If you notice your cycles are irregular in length, you are missing your period altogether (amenorrhea), your periods are heavy or light, you consistently have premenstrual spotting, these could be signs of hypothyroidism, or a sluggish thyroid. 

Thyroid hormones T4 and T3 play crucial roles in regulating the menstrual cycle. These hormones influence the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis, which controls reproductive hormone secretion and ovulation.

In addition, thyroid hormone is also important for the ovarian follicles and development of healthy eggs.

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or even subclinical hypothyroidism as well as hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can disrupt the delicate balance of reproductive hormones. We more commonly see low thyroid function in clients that we work with, but both can cause irregularities due to the effects on the metabolism as a whole.

Women need adequate thyroid hormone to ovulate and in turn make progesterone. Even if you are still ovulating, if the corpus luteum doesn’t get adequate thyroid hormone, not as much progesterone will be produced and you may experience a short luteal phase (less than 10 days). This can impact chances of pregnancy and cause dysfunction throughout the body due to the importance of ovulation during a female’s reproductive years. 

What about PMS?

When estrogen is unopposed due to low progesterone levels, this leads to a state of relative estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is a cause of many hormonal symptoms such as enhanced PMS. In addition, when the thyroid is sluggish estrogen isn’t able to detoxify estrogen as well leading to estrogen accumulating in the body. To make the situation even trickier, excess estrogen can negatively impact thyroid function, binding up free thyroid hormones so they are unable to enter your cells and really do their work. 

Ways You Can Start Nourishing Your Thyroid

These are some areas where we would suggest starting if you are looking to support your thyroid, or recently found out your thyroid isn't functioning as optimally as it could:

  • Eating enough (balanced meals) consistently

  • Sticking to a regular sleep schedule and aim for 7-9 hours a night

  • Getting plentiful micronutrients. Some specifically for the thyroid and food sources:

    • Selenium- brazil nuts, oysters, shrimp, salmon, beef, eggs, beans 

    • B Vitamins - animal proteins, nutritional yeast, avocado, spinach, chickpeas 

    • Vitamin A- liver, eggs, dairy, cod liver oil, carrots, sweet potato, leafy greens

    • Copper - beef liver, bee pollen, oysters, cacao , potatoes, shellfish

    • Potassium - potatoes, carrots, leafy greens, coconut water, eggs, salmon, beets

    • Zinc- oysters, eggs, meat, dairy

    • Magnesium - cooked greens, almonds, beans, avocado, salmon, dark chocolate

    • Iron - all animal proteins, spinach (non-heme and less absorbable, pair with Vitamin C rich foods such as bell peppers

    • Iodine- seaweed, fish, iodized salt, eggs 

    • Vitamin D - Sunlight, fatty fish, eggs 

  • Ensure your gut health is in check

    • Poor gut health is a driver of inflammation which can cause thyroid adaptations

    • If digestion isn’t up to par you are more likely to develop nutrient deficiencies

  • Managing Stress 

  • Support Liver Health (download our free liver support guide HERE )

  • Get proper testing and consider your health history understand nuances and create comprehensive solutions

We will be discussing thyroid testing in future blog posts. You can get an idea of how your thyroid is functioning at home (and better understand your cycle ! ) by measuring your basal body temperature (BBT). Optimal being 97.2 first thing in the morning indicating healthy thyroid hormone levels.

Optimizing thyroid hormone has benefits for your metabolism, energy levels, reproductive health, physique goals, cardiovascular health, gut health and hormones. 

The thyroid impacts how the entire body runs.

Through evaluating your health history, symptoms, labs and making the appropriate lifestyle and diet adjustments, supporting the body as a whole, we can create a path for healing. In addition, sometimes medications are important and necessary parts of that healing. We often work in conjunction with client's doctors to help them achieve their health and physique goals. 

If you are curious about what working with us looks like, let's connect to start your journey toward better health.


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