Thyroid Issues In Women: Why Women Are at Higher Risk
3 Min Read
The thyroid is a minute, butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, near the throat. But what does the thyroid do in a woman? Despite its small size, the thyroid in women plays an important role in regulating the body’s overall health as well as metabolism.
Why Women Are at Higher Risk to Thyroid Problems?
While researchers aren’t certain why thyroid in females is more common, it’s understood that autoimmune conditions, which are far more common in women than men, could be an important causal factor.
The prevalence of thyroid-related health conditions is 0.5–4% in iodine-replete communities, and it is 5–10 times  higher in women than in men. Also Thyroid diseases are often due to autoimmune responses, where the body's immune system attacks its own cells. These conditions are more common in women, with factors like genetics and hormones playing a role. This gender difference is essential to consider when addressing thyroid health in women.
Another reason for more occurrences of thyroid disease in women is that there is a link between the body’s fluctuating hormones during menstruation and the thyroid hormones. That said, thyroid symptoms in women can surface at any time in their lives, including during menopause and while they are ageing, as well. 
How Common Are Thyroid Problems in Women?
Thyroid issues in women are very common. While it can happen to anyone, thyroid effects in females are more significant. In fact, research indicates that one in eight women will suffer from a thyroid-related problem at some point in their lives. Essentially, the risk for thyroid problems in women is about 10 times as high as men's , causing more risk.
Thyroid Disorders and Their Effects on Women's Health
The thyroid gland’s functions have a lot to do with a woman’s reproductive system. This is especially the case if the thyroid is underactive or overactive, which a blood test at home will indicate. The imbalance in the hormones produced by the gland can have thyroid side effects in females. Here are some of them, divided in terms of life stages:
- During puberty and menstruation: When young girls suffer from thyroid problems, they are more susceptible to having early or abnormally late puberty and menstruation. Young girls with thyroid issues can also suffer from irregular or even absent periods.
- During reproduction: An underactive or overactive thyroid gland can also affect ovulation, which is the process by which the egg is released for fertilisation. The symptoms of thyroid in females could also prevent ovulation from occurring.
- During pregnancy and postpartum: Thyroid issues that surface during pregnancy can, in fact, harm the foetus and result in health conditions in the women such as postpartum thyroiditis. A deficiency of the thyroid hormone can result in miscarriages, premature deliveries, postpartum haemorrhage, and stillbirth.
- Menopause: Thyroid In Women can also occur during early menopause, which for most women happens before the age of 40 or in their early 40s. Often, the symptoms of thyroid in females, especially if it is overactive, are confused with the symptoms of early menopause.
A TSH test will indicate whether one really has thyroid issues and help doctors address the symptoms accordingly.
What Are the Symptoms of Thyroid Problems in Females?
The occurrence and severity of thyroid symptoms in females can vary widely. Also, thyroid imbalance symptoms in females vary based on whether one has hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Some of the hyperthyroidism symptoms in females, which happen when there is too much thyroid hormone in the body include:
- A feeling of constant hunger
- Weight loss, without any consistent attempts to lose weight
- Irritability and nervousness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Lighter menstrual periods
- Increased sweating
- Muscle weakness
- Redness or bulging of the eyes
- Shaking hands
- Frequent bowel movements
Underactive thyroid symptoms in females should not be ignored, either. The hypothyroidism symptoms in females are as follows:
- Weight gain, dispute not eating significantly more
- Feeling cold and fatigue
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Muscle aches
- Slow heart rate
- Heavy periods
- Not sweating as much as one used to
Thus, you can see that both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause symptoms and resulting issues.
What are the Main Causes of Thyroid Issues In Women?
Now that you know what are the early warning signs of thyroid problems in females, you’re likely wondering what causes hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism symptoms in women.
Some of the causes of women’s thyroid problems are as follows:
- Autoimmune diseases, like Hashimoto’s disease or Grave’s disease
- Thyroid cancer, goitre, benign tumours, and iodine deficiency
- Some women naturally make too much or too little of the thyroid hormone, even without medical issues
Risk and Complications
If the signs of thyroid issues in women are left untreated, they can lead to a host of problems from frequent mood swings to problems with conception.
An underactive thyroid gland could increase one’s risk for heart disease. This, in turn, could increase the risk of congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease. Women who already suffer from heart disease could experience their cardiac issues becoming worse due to the symptoms of thyroid problems in women.
That said, the symptoms of overactive thyroid in female elders could also be severe. Hyperthyroidism could cause atrial fibrillation in seniors. What’s more, over a period of time, an overactive thyroid can increase the chances and pace of osteoporosis, which could exacerbate one’s risk for fractures and the like.
How Are Thyroid Problems in Women Diagnosed?
Women's thyroid problems are easy to treat. However, an early diagnosis is important. The best treatment for thyroid issues is a thyroid profile test. Sometimes, healthcare providers may also ask patients to perform a comprehensive full-body health checkup, which makes it possible to identify if any underlying health issues are causing the thyroid dysfunction.
How Are Thyroid Problems in Women Treated?
Once a basic thyroid profile test or an advance thyroid test confirms that one is suffering from thyroid-related problems, doctors can recommend a treatment plan accordingly. Typically, medication and constant monitoring of hormone levels can treat thyroid symptoms in women.
Another treatment for hyperthyroidism is radioiodine therapy. In this case, the patient will need to take one dose of radioactive iodine. This, in turn, can destroy cells that produce the thyroid hormone.
In more severe cases, the thyroid gland will have to be surgically removed. A person who has had this surgery will need to take medications to replace the thyroid hormones in the body.
What is The Ideal Diet for Women Dealing with Thyroid Conditions?
Understanding how to control thyroid in females and manage and maintain a healthy thyroid is essential for a balanced and vibrant life. A thyroid-friendly diet should include iodine-rich foods like dairy and fish. Women should also consume Brazil nuts, whole grains, and lean meats (i.e. meats without too much fat), to help with balanced thyroid functioning. Doctors also recommend consuming plenty of vegetables and fruits. Avoiding processed foods and foods with a lot of sugar is recommended as well. Regular health check-ups with healthcare professionals are vital for long-term thyroid health management. By following these steps, women can empower themselves to lead a balanced and vibrant life.
A Note From HealthcareOnTime
Despite its small size, the thyroid plays a crucial role in women's health and well-being. Autoimmune disease and hormone imbalance are some of the leading causes of thyroid disorders among women. Effective treatment depends on early diagnosis during thyroid tests. If medical treatment is appropriately provided for this condition – involving drugs, radioactive iodine therapy, and surgical treatment in some cases – women with thyroid tumours will have a healthy life. It is also essential to consume a balanced diet that contains adequate amounts of iodine and other nutrients to promote thyroid health and general well-being.
The information listed here is strictly for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. Do consult your physician for any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. It’s not advised to disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information listed here. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.