How the Thyroid May Contribute to Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
What is the thyroid? According to the Office on Women’s Health, the thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped organ at the base of the neck that produces metabolism-regulating hormones.1 But it also has key roles in reproductive hormones and may play a role in abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB)2 AUB is any bleeding that differs from your normal cycle — whether in amount, how often, timing (such as between your regular periods) or after menopause.
Read on to learn more about this gland, how it may be associated with AUB, and when you should consult your doctor.
The American Thyroid Association estimates that 1 in 8 women develop a thyroid disorder at some point in their life, which women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop.3 This statistic makes it extra important for women to become familiar with this gland and know the signs of when there may be an imbalance.
It’s key to note the difference between an overactive and underactive gland, also known as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, respectively. If there’s too much or too little hormones, your period may become heavy, light or irregular.1 Menstrual irregularities may be a side effect of both conditions. The Journal of Advance Researches in Biological Sciences notes that menorrhagia (another term for AUB) may be the result of hypo or hyperthyroidism, though heavy periods are more often associated with an underactive thyroid.4
Abnormal uterine bleeding may be present in cases of hyperthyroidism, a condition where the thyroid produces too much of the hormone thyroxine.5 Women experiencing AUB, at any age, may benefit from having their hormone levels tested to make sure the thyroid isn’t contributing to their abnormal periods.
Conversely to hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid problems, while sometimes hard to diagnose, may have a wide range of impacts on a woman’s health that go beyond AUB. Several other signs of hypothyroidism include:6
- Menstrual irregularities
- Premature menopause
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Puffy face
- Hoarse voice
- Muscle weakness, aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Joint pain, stiffness or swelling
- Thinning hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory function
While unbalanced hormones won’t always be the cause of AUB, if a woman has AUB and hasn’t been screened for disorders, ruling out a thyroid-related cause may help a doctor narrow the field of potential causes of abnormal periods.
When You Should See Your Doctor
Although you may not exhibit all the symptoms of an overactive or underactive gland, if your period (or your overall health) doesn’t feel quite right, always visit a health care professional. They can answer all your questions and order the tests you need. And of course, if you think you may be suffering from heavy or abnormal periods, you should visit www.changethecycle.com and speak with your doctor about the possibility that you have abnormal uterine bleeding.
- Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Thyroid disease. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/thyroid-disease. Accessed on February 6, 2017.
- Mayo Clinic. Menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding), Symptoms and Causes. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menorrhagia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20338408. Accessed on September 27, 2017.
- American Thyroid Association. General Information / Press Room. http://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/. Accessed on September 27, 2017.
- Journal of Advance Researches in Biological Sciences. Thyroid Dysfunction in Dysfunctional Uterine Bleeding. http://www.ejmanager.com/mnstemps/86/86-1364011093.pdf. Accessed on September 27, 2017.
- Mayo Clinic. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), Definition. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperthyroidism/basics/definition/con-20020986. Accessed on September 27, 2017.
- Mayo Clinic. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), Symptoms and causes. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/symptoms-causes/dxc-20155382. Accessed on September 27, 2017.
- Posted by Dot.
- On November 20, 2017