20% of Women With PCOS Have Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland is not able to produce enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid helps to manage your metabolism so a person with hypothyroidism will struggle with weight issues because, the lower your thyroid, the slower your metabolism.
Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include; fatigue, dry skin, constipation, muscle weakness, thinning hair, increased sensitivity to cold.
Studies have shown that around 20% of women with PCOS also have hypothyroidism, in particular, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, compared to around 8% of the general female population.
Hashimoto's is when your immune system attacks your thyroid, damaging it to the point where it cannot produce enough thyroid hormone for your body.
The exact cause of the connection between PCOS and hypothyroidism is still yet to be discovered, but certain factors such as genetics, nutrient deficiencies, inflammation, and stress all play a role.
It’s not hard to find connections between your thyroid and PCOS as they are connected via your hormonal system.
Insulin resistance, which triggers a hormonal imbalance of insulin levels found in around 50-70% of women with PCOS is also associated with thyroid function as studies have found that increased levels of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) correlate with an increase in insulin resistance.
Hypothyroidism also triggers excess androgens via decreasing the levels of SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin), meaning there is more free testosterone roaming in your bloodstream to cause trouble.
SHBG also binds to estrogen so when you have low SHBG levels you will have a higher ratio of estrogen to progesterone. The ratio imbalance seems to be directly involved in high thyroid antibody levels in women with PCOS.
Hypothyroidism increases the size of the ovaries and promotes cyst formation, it also causes the deposit of mucopolysaccharides within various organs. Material deposited in the ovaries hampers ovarian function and hormone synthesis, resulting in disrupted menstrual cycling.
An important note is that a recent study showed that Hashimoto's thyroiditis significantly increased the chances of women with PCOS to be resistant to Clomid (fertility medication).
Due to the high correlation between Hypothyroidism and PCOS, it’s very clear that if you haven’t been tested already, you need to have your doctor run a full thyroid test for you where they test your levels of TSH, FT3, FT4, Anti TPO, Anti TG.
The health of your thyroid will have a profound impact on all aspects of your PCOS so it’s vital you get it checked.
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