Updated: Mar 28
A gland that controls your metabolism is small, but mighty! It also plays an essential role in your reproductive health. It releases hormones that are called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones help the healthy development of your ovaries and uterus (1). However, sometimes the thyroid does not work properly. When this happens, medical conditions like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can start to develop.
Is Your Thyroid Hormone Off-Balance?
We all know that life is about balance, but when we put too much emphasis on one part of life, things can start to fall apart. The same goes with your thyroid. When your thyroid does not produce enough of the T3 and T4 hormones, a condition called hypothyroidism begins to develop. During hypothyroidism, important cells in the ovaries change for the worse. Hormones, called androgens, build up in the blood because they are not removed from the body fast enough. This buildup disrupts the normal development of the ovary and the release of female eggs for fertilization. Symptoms of too much androgen include unusual hair growth, missed or irregular menstrual periods, and delayed sexual maturity (2).
When the thyroid produces too much of the T3 and T4 hormones,
another condition called hyperthyroidism can happen. This can cause your body to make too much sex hormone binding protein (SHBG) (2). Too much SHBG can cause important sex hormones, like estrogen, to be unavailable for your body to use (3). If estrogen is unavailable for your body to use, your uterus will not be able to thicken with blood vessels. Unfortunately, this will cause less blood to flow during your period (4). Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, fatigue, unusual heartbeats, shortness of breath, and irritation of the eye (5).
Ways To Improve Thyroid Health
By now, you are very aware of what can go wrong with your thyroid. But, let me tell you some information about how you can keep your thyroid in tip top shape.
1. Controlling your Iodine intake and eating enough vitamin D and selenium can help reduce the risk of thyroid inflammation.
2. Be careful about the amount of table salt you use since a lot of table salt includes Iodine.
3. Try more plant-based milks like fortified soy milk because they can give you a good amount of vitamin D.
4. In order to get more selenium in your diet, eat more Brazil nuts and whole grains like brown rice (6).
5. Watch out for animal fat and butter because they can increase the risk of thyroid inflammation.
6. Consider adopting a vegan lifestyle because it has been shown that a vegan diet might lower the risk of hypothyroidism (7).
Need help planning meals to aid in thyroid health?
What about a wellness evaluation to see if there are habits that are hindering the health of your thyroid? If you're ready to explore the options, our women's health registered dietitian nutritionist, Sue-Ellen Anderson Haynes, can guide you with nutrition and lifestyle plans, like the E.A.T B.etter series, that will provide you with plant-based, anti-inflammatory, hormone-balancing recipes and so much more. Book a Discovery Call if you're ready to improve the health of your thyroid and your body!
1. Thyroid hormones and female reproduction https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29767691/
2. Thyroid dysfunction and thyroid autoimmunity in euthyroid women in achieving fertility.
3. SHBG Blood Test. Medline Plus.