Thyroid problems commonly seen in women: Know its types, symptoms and treatment

Read on to know the various thyroid issues that affect women, why they are prevalent in this demographic and treatment options for women looking to start family

Thyroid problems commonly seen in women: Know its types, symptoms and treatment (Photo by Unsplash)

The thyroid gland is a small butterfly situated in the front of the neck and produces essential hormones like triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) that are crucial for the proper functioning of all organs in the body. Adequate iodine levels are necessary for the thyroid gland to secrete these hormones effectively, making it important for individuals to regularly consume iodized salt.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Vaishali Naik, Thyroid and Endocrinologist at Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, explained, “The hypothalamus and pituitary gland work together to regulate the thyroid gland, with the pituitary releasing thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to control T3 and T4 production. Thyroid disorders typically fall into three categories: hypothyroidism, where hormone levels are low. Hyperthyroidism is characterized by excessive hormone secretion and thyroid swelling resulting in nodular or multinodular goiter. Women are more susceptible to developing thyroid disorders, which rank as one of the most common health issues after iron deficiency.”

She elaborated, “Detecting thyroid dysfunction involves conducting hormonal tests for T3, T4, free T3, T4, and TSH. Additionally, based on symptoms and signs present, further investigations such as thyroid scans or sonography may be recommended. In some cases, aspiration cytology might be necessary to determine if thyroid gland removal is warranted. Women are especially susceptible to thyroid disorders at any life stage. Common hypothyroidism symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, and constipation. Hyperthyroidism warning signs include weight loss, palpitations, tremors, and diarrhea in women.”

According to her, age-related symptoms can also indicate thyroid issues in women or children. She said, “For instance; delayed puberty or precocious puberty in girls during childhood and adolescence or growth disorders can be observed. Adolescent girls tend to experience irregular menses while women of reproductive age may experience irregular periods or recurrent pregnancy losses. Some women may have no symptoms but discover thyroid problems through TSH testing.”

Asserting that women must be aware that despite being diagnosed with thyroid issues they can still have a healthy pregnancy, Dr Vaishali Naik advised, “Women need to ensure their thyroid levels are stable before getting pregnant, during pregnancy, and after giving birth. Thyroid problems may also arise after childbirth. It is recommended that all newborn babies undergo a TSH test to assess their thyroid health and check if the parents have any thyroid disorders. Treatment plans will be determined by the doctor, which may include medication and lifestyle adjustments like diet and exercise for weight management. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can be beneficial for these women. If you are detected with thyroid problems then make sure to take charge of your health and improve your quality of life.”

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