Two of the most common disorders that involve hormonal imbalance in women are Polycistic Ovary Syndrome and hypothyroidism. These two disorders have very similar symptoms and can usually only be distinguished through blood tests. Many women suffer from both at the same time. Both disorders affect many aspects of the woman's life and need to be treated properly.
Symptoms of PCOS
The symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) begin with irregular periods. Usually periods become heavier and abnormal. They may also become more spread out, instead of being every 28-30 days. Beyond irregular periods, PCOS symptoms include depression, mood swings, hair loss, weight gain and acne. These symptoms are the result of higher than normal levels of androgen hormones in the body. Untreated, these symptoms can cause infertility issues.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are similar to those of PCOS. Hypothyroidism in women usually results in irregular and heavy periods, depression, mood swings, weight gain and hair loss. In addition, hypothyroidism causes exhaustion, joint pain and muscle weakness. Hypothyroidism left unchecked can get out of control, causing a host of other diseases in the body.
Hypothyroidism and PCOS
When women go to the doctor complaining of unexplainable weight gain, abnormal periods and hair loss, the doctor will generally test for both PCOS and hypothyroidism. These are the two most common diseases with these symptoms that affect women of child-bearing age. A simple blood test can show which hormone levels are too high. Abnormal levels of the thyroid hormones (TSH, T3 and T4) indicate a thyroid problem while abnormal androgen levels indicate PCOS. Doctors are now discovering that hypothyroidism and PCOS go hand in hand and are researching the possibility that hypothyroidism can cause PCOS.
Hypothyrodism Complications for PCOS Sufferers
A woman who has both PCOS and hypothyroidism will deal with all the frustrations of infertility while also dealing with the aches and pains of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism can cause additional fertility issues as well. Women with untreated hypothyroidism are more likely to have preterm labor, still births or even miscarriages. This means that someone with PCOS and hypothyroidism who does get pregnant has a lower chance of delivering a healthy, full-term baby.
Treating Hypothyroidism with PCOS
Since many doctors now believe that PCOS is made worse and possibly caused by thyroid disorders, keeping the thyroid in check is the best treatment. An endocrinologist can help a woman get her hormone levels back to normal through hormone supplements that are safe to use even while pregnant. Once her thyroid issues are in check, the woman can re-evaluate her PCOS symptoms and infertility issues and make educated decisions on fertility treatments and hormone therapy for PCOS symptoms.