How Your Thyroid Impacts Your Health
Dr. Ashley Margeson
This might be one of the first glands we look to when you’re extremely tired, and having trouble losing weight, but your thyroid impacts more than that, it also impacts your hormones by causing a changing in your period, your endometrial lining and even your ovulation cascades.
What is the thyroid?
Along the front of your windpipe, low on your neck, lies a small gland called the thyroid. This tiny gland plays a big role in regulating your health. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, a system of different glands located throughout the body that make the hormones that regulate almost every part and function in your body.
The thyroid’s main job is to regulate and control your body’s metabolism, or ability to take food and change it into energy. It also helps regulate your heart rate, how fast you burn calories, body temperature, blood pressure, muscle contractions, and mood. For your thyroid to work correctly, its cells need to take in and use iodine. This means your diet needs to be rich in foods that supply iodine, such as iodized salt, prunes, egg yolks, lima beans, fish, iodine-fortified foods, and different seaweeds.
What happens when my thyroid is out of balance?
When your thyroid is out of balance it produces either too much or too little of the different hormones it secretes. With an imbalanced thyroid, your body doesn’t receive the right amount of hormones it needs to function.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid is overactive or overproduces thyroid hormones. Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the primary cause of hyperthyroidism, but inflammation of the thyroid can also lead to excess hormones. Think about hyperthyroidism as your thyroid running too fast, and your body trying to slow it down.
When not treated, hyperthyroidism leads to significant health problems with your bones, muscles, and heart. It can also impact your menstrual cycle and fertility. Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:
-Unexplained weight loss
Hypothyroidism results when your thyroid is underactive or doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. An autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease causes the immune system to attach the thyroid and is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in Canada.
With an underactive thyroid, your body functions slow, including your metabolism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism are slow to appear and progress slowly. Initially, you might feel more tired than normal. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid can include:
-Slow heart rate
-Weight gain or trouble losing weight
-Heavy menstrual cycles
-Underactive sweat glands
Can My Thyroid Affect My Estrogen?
The relationship between estrogen and thyroid is a very important element of your endocrine system. But generally, estrogen affects your thyroid response, not the other way around.
One way that estrogen dominance impacts on thyroid health is by stopping the conversion of T4 into T3 thyroid hormone which leads to low T3 levels. This means that although there is not a direct issue with the thyroid gland, symptoms of hypothyroidism will be experienced. Too much estrogen can also block the uptake of thyroid hormones, once again leading to symptoms of hypothyroidism. These symptoms often manifest most strongly during perimenopause, when progesterone levels are significantly decreased but estrogen is still present.
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