How thyroid hormones affect menstruation

An irregular cycle can be simply the result of stress, lifestyle and habits such as excessive exercise, or various medical conditions. One of them is also hypothyroidism.


Menstrual problems are more common in women with advanced hypothyroidism.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones and is more likely to develop in women. Thyroid hormones play an important role in the body, from energy regulation to body temperature. If you do not produce enough thyroid hormones, many functions in the body will slow down and you can expect constipation, fatigue, cramps, joint pain, dry skin, depression, as well as unexpected weight gain, reports the portal

Hormonal changes

Hypothyroidism can also affect the menstrual cycle by triggering a series of hormonal changes that affect the reproductive system. The following happens: when the level of thyroid hormone decreases, the hypothalamus will produce more thyrotropin hormone in the brain, and the pituitary gland will release excess thyroid hormone. High levels of prolactin then inhibit the production of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) in the hypothalamus. This is where the problem arises because GnRH is needed to produce a hormone that stimulates follicle production. These hormones are necessary for the normal functioning of the ovaries, and if the condition is disturbed, an irregular cycle can occur. Changes in prolactin levels can cause a change in the way the thyroid gland is controlled in the ovaries and thus affect menstruation. Women suffering from hypothyroidism may thus experience very heavy menstruation, delayed or irregular menstruation, and the symptoms depend on how hypothyroidism progresses. Menstrual problems may be more common in women with advanced hypothyroidism.

When to see a doctor

If you notice changes, it is important to determine the cause. If you can’t find it yourself, be sure to see a doctor. Failure to do so can lead to complications such as anemia, low body temperature and heart disease. Of course, thyroid problems can be one of the causes of cycle changes, but it can also be affected by polycystic ovaries, infections, or cancer. If menstruation occurs less than 21 days apart or if you have not had a period for three months, you should see a doctor who will perform the necessary tests and check the levels of various hormones. If it is hypothyroidism, your TSH levels will be elevated and your free thyroid hormone levels will be low. If you already know you have hypothyroidism, and you have noticed changes in your cycle, see your doctor to check the level of hormones that should be appropriate for your therapy. If menstruation has not stabilized and TSH is within normal limits, it is wise to arrange for an examination by a gynecologist so that he can assess the possible cause.

How the condition affects fertility

If you are planning a pregnancy, this condition may cross your plans. Women with hypothyroidism may develop a short luteal phase, which is the period between ovulation and menstruation. Abnormal ovulations may also occur or none at all. Changes in menstruation do not always mean worse fertility, but the condition should be checked by a doctor. An uncontrolled condition can increase your chances of having an abortion, so it’s important to monitor your thyroid, especially if you know you’re having problems or have had an abortion in the past.

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