The thyroid is that butterfly-shaped gland located in front of the neck and is one of the most vital hormone glands and assists in controlling our body’s metabolism, growth, and development. Any malfunctioning of this gland can wreak havoc in our health and lifestyle. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain sends signals to the thyroid gland to release the hormone which controls our cardiac and digestive function, motor functioning, brain development, and even our moods.
Hypothyroidism- Low level of thyroid hormone produced, known as Hashimoto’s disease and maybe a result of autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks the thyroid. It can cause symptoms like fatigue, intolerance to coldness, weight gain, loss in appetite, constipation, muscle weakness and joint pain, slow heart rate, depression and lack of concentration and even infertility.
Hyperthyroidism- High level of thyroid hormone may be due to Grave’s disease and can cause symptoms like intolerance to heat, weight loss, increased appetite, diarrhea, tremors, increased sweating, irregular menstrual cycle, palpitation, tiredness and irritability, and hair loss.
Thyroid problems have become extremely common nowadays and it is more prevalent in girls than boys. Thyroid cancer can also affect women 8 times more than men. The problem may arise from birth or at a very early age and it is seen mainly in people who have a family member suffering from thyroid issues. But the symptoms mainly appear during puberty. A simple blood test can help the doctor start treatment. Proper and timely intervention can allow you to lead a regular life.
The first signs of any thyroid problem are visible on your skin, hair, and nails. So if you have the following symptoms, consult a doctor:
Thyroid directly affects a woman’s ovaries which causes a drastic change in the menstruation cycle. Women who suffer from hypothyroidism causes heavy and frequent menses. The menstrual period lasts for a longer period, more than 6 days and is accompanied by severe cramps, backaches and stomach aches. Menarche can start as early as 10 years for young girls.
When there is a sudden increase in the TRH (thyroid releasing hormone), it can cause amenorrhea or absent periods. Abnormal milky discharge from the breast, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness are some of the other symptoms. Hyperthyroidism prevents ovulation and skipped menses. Puberty is delayed in adolescent girls. This leads to higher chances of infertility and problems during pregnancy in comparison to women who do not have thyroid issues. Hyperthyroidism leads to the early onset of menopause.
The symptoms for pregnancy and thyroids are almost similar hence it can very easily be missed and can prove to be fatal. Women with hypothyroidism are at a higher risk of miscarriage during their first trimester. Test for thyroid during pregnancy is important even for those who didn’t have it prior to conceiving. Those who are already on thyroid medication need to be regularly under a doctor’s check-up.
During the first three months, the growing fetus gets its thyroid hormone from the mother, through the placenta and is necessary for proper brain development. Afterwards, the fetus starts producing its own thyroid. During pregnancy, the mother’s body has to produce more thyroids to meet the growing metabolism of the body and to support the developing fetus. Most women develop a mild case of hypothyroidism during this period. If it is left untreated then it can lead to risks like premature delivery, miscarriage, preeclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage, anemia, and placental abruption. The baby’s motor, brain and growth development has a higher chance of being affected.
Detecting hyperthyroidism during pregnancy can be extremely difficult and the treatment options are also quite tricky. If this condition remains undetected or untreated, then it can lead to stillbirth, low birth weight and also neonatal hyperthyroidism. Grave’s disease emerges more commonly during the first trimester, and then improves during the second and third trimester and can reoccur post-delivery.
Postpartum thyroiditis affects about 10% of new mothers and can often be mistaken for post-partum depression. It can last for 12-18 months and it is divided into 2 phases: hyperthyroidism symptom which starts with 1-4 months of giving birth and hypothyroidism phase which starts about 8 months after delivery.
Get yourself screened for thyroid from an early age, and with proper medication and regular check-up, complications can be kept at bay. If you are trying to conceive, it is best to talk to your doctor and be constantly monitored, so that the best 9 months of your life isn’t marred by a pesky hormone.