The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck's anterior portion that is responsible for regulating metabolism, temperature, and energy. It is estimated that approximately one in eight women will be affected by a thyroid condition at some point in their lives.
There is an association between Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid disease. These conditions can share similar symptoms including:
- Difficulty losing weight
- Weight gain
- Intolerance to cold temperatures
- Brain fog
- Memory loss
- Irregular cycles
- Hair loss
- Low libido
- Increased risk of miscarriages
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
Diagnosis of PCOS and Thyroid disease
To diagnose hypothyroidism, your doctor will first ask about your past health problems and do a physical exam. If your doctor thinks you have either of these conditions, blood tests can be done to determine ovarian and thyroid hormone levels. It is important to check for Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), Free T4, and Free T3 as free T3 may be more important than previously thought at linking these 2 conditions.
To receive a diagnosis of PCOS, you must meet two of the following criteria:
- Irregular ovulation, which is usually indicated by an irregular menstrual cycle or lack of a cycle
- Signs of increased androgen levels or a blood test confirming you have increased levels.
- Multiple small cysts on the ovaries. This may be determined by ultrasound.
Conversion of T4 to T3
The pituitary gland in the brain makes TSH which tells the thyroid to make T4. T4 is then converted in the body to T3 which is the usable form of thyroid within the cells. Some people do not convert T4 to T3 very well, and this can cause problems.
T3 & insulin resistance
Studies show that insulin resistance and metabolic conditions like diabetes can interfere with converting the thyroid hormone Free T4 to its active form, Free T3. This is due to higher insulin levels that convert Free T4 into the inactive form, reverse T3.
Stress and inflammation increase reverse T3 levels, resulting in low TSH levels despite a seemingly functioning thyroid. Studies have found that women with PCOS and high TSH levels have higher BMI, insulin resistance, and testosterone levels than those with less than 2.5 miU/L. This further emphasizes why it is important to consider these factors when evaluating thyroid function and look beyond TSH levels to better understand a patient's thyroid health.
To ensure proper thyroid function, Free T4 and Free T3 levels should be near the top end of the reference range. It's important to note that both the thyroid and insulin play a role in glucose metabolism and can impact each other. At The Woman’s Clinic, we assess thyroid function in women with PCOS and PCOS indicators in women with hypothyroidism.
Seek Treatment at The Woman’s Clinic
At The Woman's Clinic, we understand the challenges of managing PCOS and thyroid imbalances like hypothyroidism. That's why we offer a range of treatment options to help our patients regulate their symptoms. Whether through regular prescription or compounded bioidentical drugs, we work with you to find the best solution for your needs. We aim to help you optimize your health and live your best life. Don't let PCOS and thyroid optimization issues hold you back any longer; let us help you find the right treatment plan.
Schedule your wellness appointment today if you have any symptoms or concerns!