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Irregular or heavy periods may be a sign of a thyroid issue

Thyroid and menstrual cycle have a close bond. If you have irregular or heavy periods, it might be due to thyroid problems.
Can periods indicate a thyroid problem
Can periods indicate a thyroid problem. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Natalia Ningthoujam Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 06:36 pm IST
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Periods are a time full of uncertainty. Sometimes, the flow can be too heavy or you feel too lethargic or on some months, you don’t even get down when you expect to. Cramps and aches don’t leave you too! Well, hate it or love it, menstruation can say a lot about your health. So, if your periods don’t arrive on time or you face heavy bleeding, it might be a thyroid problem.

According to the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, it has been estimated that approximately 42 million Indians have thyroid diseases. So, if menstruation can give a sign about this problem, it will only help you.

Health Shots connected with Dr Bindhu KS, Consultant Obstetrician, and Gynaecologist, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, to find out the link between thyroid and periods.

thyroid and periods
Thyroid dysfunction and menstrual cycle are linked. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Thyroid and periods

We have a thyroid gland that produces hormones that play a vital role in regulating the body’s metabolism and menstrual cycle. Dr Bindhu explains that the two main hormones produced by the thyroid gland, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), influence the reproductive system. They affect the production of estrogen and progesterone which are responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle. When the thyroid gland is not functioning properly, it can lead to either an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Both conditions can affect your menstrual cycle.

Hypothyroidism can cause irregular or heavy periods, which may be longer or shorter than usual. Women may experience even lack of periods. Hypothyroidism impairs insulin sensitivity, which is one reason thyroid disease is associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which can cause irregular periods, infertility, obesity and other symptoms.

Women with hyperthyroidism may experience amenorrhea, which is the absence of menstruation for three or more consecutive months. This is because hyperthyroidism can disrupt the balance of hormones in the body, leading to decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are necessary for a healthy menstrual cycle.

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thyroid and periods
You may have heavy flow or irregular periods if you have thyroid issues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Treatment for thyroid dysfunction

It depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. However, in general, there are a few approaches that can help manage thyroid-related menstrual irregularities and ensure a smooth period:

1. Hypothyroidism

The treatment usually involves hormone replacement therapy, where synthetic thyroid hormone is prescribed to supplement the body’s natural hormone production. This can help to regulate the menstrual cycle and improve symptoms such as heavy bleeding and painful cramps.

2. Hyperthyroidism

You may have to take medications to regulate the production of thyroid hormones. In severe cases, you may have to undergo a surgery or radioactive iodine therapy to remove or destroy part of the thyroid gland., says the expert. As the thyroid hormone levels return to normal, the menstrual cycle may also become more regular.

Women with thyroid disorder who experience heavy periods may also benefit from taking iron supplements to support healthy iron levels. Don’t just rely on medical treatments, as lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress can also help support healthy menstrual function. The best way to ensure a smooth period for women with thyroid dysfunction is to work closely with a medical expert to manage the underlying condition and develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses their individual needs and concerns.

It’s true that a woman’s period can provide some clues about her thyroid health. Irregularities in the menstrual cycle such as heavy bleeding, irregular cycles or absent periods can be indicative of thyroid dysfunction.

Apart from menstrual irregularities, other symptoms of thyroid dysfunction can include fatigue, weight changes, hair loss, dry skin, and mood changes. So, if you experience all this, it’s better to get yourself checked.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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