Of late, to my bewilderment, many Indian women I come across seem to be under treatment for thyroid.  Thyroid diseases fall under the category of autoimmune diseases. I read about the thyroid problem in women extensively.

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system attacks itself by mistake. When I looked for more information I found that thyroid disease and systemic lupus erythematosus are the most common autoimmune diseases found in women. The latter sounds so terrifying that I did not read any more on it. However, Thyroid disease in women of childbearing age was my subject of concern.

The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in the body and plays an important role in the body’s metabolism. It also secretes hormones like thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and calcitonin while regulating body heat and bone growth. The thyroid gland works together with the pituitary gland.  For some reason, untreated thyroid problems are quite common in women following pregnancy.  A good number of women suffer from thyroid problems at some stage of their life time or other.  Any problem with the thyroid is usually seen in weight loss, fatigue, memory loss, depression etc.  Hashimoto’s disease, or hypothyroiditis and Graves’ disease are two types of thyroid diseases found more in females than males.  While in the former, the thyroid gets destroyed by the immune system the latter is a medical condition in which excessive amount of thyroid hormone is produced.

A change in the menstruation pattern can be caused by thyroids.  Any abnormality in the thyroid can lead to irregular or heavy periods or even stop menstruation at all.  The link between the two is not well-established and understood.  Many thyroid related And many period problems go undiagnosed and unknown.Very early menarche that starts before 9 and delayed menarche after 15 can be related to thyroid changes.  McCune-Albright Syndrome (scary name) is a rare disease that occurs at the juncture of early periods (precocious puberty) and hyperthyroidism (high levels of thyroid).  Delayed periods in adolescence can be because of hypothyroidism or under active thyroid.

Hypothyroidism puts a break on all bodily functions and have symptoms like that of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Thyroid treatment in women with PMS relieves them from PMS problems too.In older women, the activity of the thyroid reflects on the ovulation. It can stop egg production at all for some and cause cysts in a few. Thyroid deficiency during pregnancy affects the fetal growth. But luckily, taking thyroid medication while pregnant is not unsafe.

After pregnancy, thyroid changes leads to postpartum thyroiditis. A condition of painless inflammation of the thyroid gland develops in mothers 4-12 months after childbirth. The main symptom of this disease is an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism.  The story does not end there.  In the early 40?s or before during on the onset of menopause women may find themselves suffering from hyperthyroidism.  This is the time when women have mood swings, insomnia and lack of periods. Problems during menopause can thus be cured by treating hyperthyroidism.