Many people consider hot flashes and night sweats a sign of early menopause but altered thyroid function can cause many symptoms associated with menopause.
In fact many of the symptoms associated with menopause such as headaches, brain fog, weight gain, depression, irregular cycles, PMS night sweats and hair loss are also signs that your thyroid isn’t functioning properly.
Over 20% of menopausal women in the US are diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction. Statistics show that one in eight women between the ages of 35 and 65 and one in five women over the age of 65 have some form of thyroid disease.
Recent studies suggest that millions more suffer from subclinical problems but are undiagnosed. For women in their late 30’s or 40’s, hypothyroidism is often a good indication that they are in perimenopause — the five, ten, or even 15 years of hormonal change preceding menopause.
Why is this so? Because, studies have shown that high estrogen combined with low progesterone levels, called estrogen dominance, hampers thyroid function. Strong synthetic estrogens, such as those in Premarin, may exacerbate estrogen dominance.
A great thyroid function test that you can do at home is called the Barnes Temperature Thyroid Test. Keep a thermometer beside your bed. When you awaken in the morning, before moving around (yes, even before you make a trip to the bathroom), tuck the thermometer snugly in your armpit and keep it in place for 15 minutes. Keep as still as possible. Then, remove the thermometer, take a reading, and write down the results.
Follow this procedure for three days, then determine an average reading by adding all three readings together and dividing by three. If you’re average temperature is below 97.5 degrees F., in all probability you are suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism. Of course, this test is not to be used to replace any needed medical tests or attention to problems that you may have.
Functional Medicine Testing
Other testing of salivary or blood levels of progesterone during the luteal phase(2nd Half) of the menstrual cycle can be of great value, as well as salivary and blood levels of thyroid hormones give us a picture of your whole hormonal health. With these simple tests a personalized plan can be implemented to reduce the negative impact of excess estrogen on the thyroid.
The bottom line is that nutrition, stress management, and exercise are the keys to your well-being —and optimal thyroid and hormonal function is not likely without them. Beyond this foundation, you may still may need thyroid hormone replacement, and this is something you should discuss with your healthcare provider.
We can tell you that we’ve seen our patients improve using nonprescription thyroid interventions, but for some women, thyroid hormone replacement may be absolutely crucial. In these cases we recommend alternative thyroid treatments as a complement, rather than a substitute, for thyroid medication.