Dispelling Myths about Women’s Thyroid Health

Myth: Thyroid issues only affect older women

Fact: Thyroid disorders can affect women of all ages. While the risk increases with age, younger women can also develop thyroid problems. Conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder leading to hypothyroidism, often surface in younger age groups

Myth: If you become fat, you will develop a thyroid disorder

Fact: Though there might be a link between obesity and certain thyroid conditions, it cannot be generalized. Many other factors like insulin resistance, genetics, family history, lifestyle, and environmental exposures do play a crucial role and contribute to thyroid health.  The majority of people with obesity don’t have any thyroid condition.  However, some studies suggest people with obesity have a slightly higher risk of developing hypothyroidism, where the thyroid gland underproduces hormones.  Obesity can worsen the symptoms of pre-existing thyroid problems like hypothyroidism.

Focusing on overall health while monitoring weight is crucial. Weight is an important factor, but can’t be generalized.  Maintaining a healthy lifestyle (balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management) plays a crucial role.

Myth: Thyroid Medication Is Harmful During Pregnancy

Fact: Properly managed thyroid medication is crucial for maintaining thyroid function during pregnancy. Untreated thyroid disorders pose risks to both the mother and the developing fetus. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy, when prescribed and monitored by healthcare professionals, is safe and essential for pregnant women with thyroid disorders, ensuring a healthier pregnancy and reducing potential complications

Myth: All Women with Thyroid Disorders Exhibit the Same Symptoms

Fact:  Fatigue, hair fall, dry skin, constipation, and cold intolerance, are some of the common thyroid disorders among women. These symptoms may vary widely among women and it also depends on the duration and severity of hypothyroidism.  Ignoring these signs may exacerbate the condition. Regular check-ups and thyroid screening tests can help diagnose and manage this disorder.

Myth:  Women with thyroid issues can never be pregnant

Fact:   Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can affect fertility. Women with hypothyroidism at times develop polycystic ovaries, further affecting their menstrual cycles. It might require treatment before conception to optimize chances of success. With appropriate medical guidance and management, women with thyroid conditions can conceive and deliver healthy babies.

Myth: Irregular Periods are Not Linked to Thyroid Disorders

Fact: Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in regulating the menstrual cycle. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause irregular periods, heavier or lighter flow, or even amenorrhea. Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) are at an increased risk of thyroid dysfunction, further affecting their menstrual cycles

Myth: Thyroid Disorders Have No Connection with Diabetes in Women

Fact: There is a significant interplay between thyroid health and diabetes in women. Women with diabetes are more prone to thyroid dysfunction, and vice versa. Managing one condition can positively impact the other, emphasizing the need for comprehensive healthcare.

By Dr Mahesh D.M., Consultant, Endocrinology, Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore

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