Thyroid & Period Problems

EPISODE 23

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Thyroid & the Period Problem Connection

Every cell in your body needs thyroid hormones, including your reproduction cells! It follows that if our thyroid isn’t working properly that that can contribute toward period problems.

Thyroid hormone is essential for follicle development in the ovary (a necessary step in ovulation). It is also involved in brain hormone signalling to the ovaries, which is essential to a healthy menstrual cycle. If brain-ovarian communication is interrupted, or the ovaries are unable to ovulate, then your cycles may become irregular” Dr Brighton.

Let’s cover hypo & hyper thyroid issues separately, although both can cause problems. Also remembering that many of these symptoms can have causes other than thyroid-related causes eg PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, medication side effects but it’s not uncommon for these to go hand in hand with thyroid issues.

Always get medical advice to help you find the cause if you are experiencing disruptions to your menstrual cycle. 

Personal Note: Much of what I speak & write about comes from my personal experiences. Personally, I haven’t had major problems with my period.  I have tended toward longer cycles when my thyroid function isn’t optimal. There certainly are challenges in this space for other women in my family and I wonder if there are undiagnosed thyroid issues going on. My Mum was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s a few months ago and had lots of gynaecological issues when she was younger and other women in my extended family have too. 

By and large, the information in this episode is based on my research not personal experience. 

HYPOthyroidism & Periods

Hypothyroidism is when we have an UNDER active thyroid (the most common form of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s). Remember that when our thyroid is under-performing, everything runs SLOW.

Common period problems for those with an underactive thyroid:

Heavy bleeding. What does that really mean? How do we know if our flow is ‘heavy’? According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, heavy menstrual bleeding is defined by one or more of the following features:

  • Bleeding that lasts more than seven days
  • Bleeding that soaks through one or more tampons or pads every hour for several hours in a row
  • Needing to wear more than one pad at a time to control menstrual flow
  • Needing to change pads or tampons during the night
  • Menstrual flow with blood clots that are as big as a quarter or larger [about the size of an Australian 10 cent coin]

Painful periods

Irregular cycles – both more frequent (<24 days) and less >38 days)/skipped or no period (>6mths) are common. Remember everything slows down with an underactive thyroid, so it’s common to have longer cycles or even no period at all. Early menstruation (<10 years) this can be a sign of hypothyroid issues. Good to know if you have thyroid issues and daughters! More info.

Different menstrual cycles phases can be impacted differently. If you’d like to learn more about this, check out this article.

This can have an impact on fertility – the lack of thyroid hormones can have a negative impact on ovulation. This is one of many reasons that it’s important to be properly medicated for your thyroid condition and work with your health practitioners to have not just a normally functioning thyroid, but an optimally functioning one! You can read more about thyroid and infertility here.

HYPERthyroidism & Periods.

Hyperthyroidism is when you have an OVER active thyroid. Your body produces too much thyroid hormones and in general terms your body runs FAST.

Common menstrual cycle problems for those with an overactive thyroid:

  1. Interestingly absent or infrequent periods are the most common abnormalities for HYPER hypothyroidism too.
  2. Delayed puberty (>15 years old)
  3. Lighter flow.
  4. Shorter periods

What can you do if you have disruption to your menstrual cycle/period problems?

Get your thyroid levels tested – it’s so important to know if this is an underlying cause and if not, what else IS going on. Linked to this is getting our medication levels right too. This is so important. Ideally, you want your thyroid function to be OPTIMAL, not just ‘normal’ too.

 

 

Testing your adrenals can be helpful too.

Work with a regular health practitioner to help you get to the bottom of your menstrual irregularities and your thyroid health.

Try Maca Root Powder

 Maca root is an adaptogen and can help your body deal with stress and hormone imbalances. It’s regulating and balancing not stimulating.  Maca Root comes from Peru and is sometimes called Peruvian Viagra! 

It’s easy to add Maca Root powder to smoothies, bliss balls or take as a supplement.  

In my podcast interviews with Jackie Isles and on Michelle’s Thyroid Story, we have a chat about Maca! It’s one of those things I often forget about it, but after all this research I’m getting it out of the cupboard.

Here are some helpful articles I found about Maca:

Maca + Menopause

Maca + Menstruation and also here

A few cautions about Maca

Essential oils

Essential oils such as the women’s monthly blend (doTERRA’s Clary Calm), rubbed over the abdomen can help support our hormones. 

You could also try this recipe from The Essential Life 5th edition: For heavy flow – 6 drops Roman Chamomile, 4 drops geranium, 3 drops lemon, 2 drops cypress in a 15ml bottle topped with carrier oil and massaged into the abdomen several times a day starting the week leading up to menstruation.

When I first discussed heavy bleeding as a symptom of Hashimoto’s in the Let’s Talk Thyroid Community quite a few people shared their personal experiences of using essential oils for heavy bleeding/menstrual issues. Here are their comments:

Heavy bleeding is under control for me with the help of Cypress oil applied topically. Also my long cycles became more normal (35 days down to 31) once I started applying oils to my adrenals. The blend is actually 5 drops of each Rosemary, Geranium, Elevation and Basil in a 10ml roller topped with carrier oil, used daily.

I use a blend low down over my  abdomen. Jasmine, cypress and clary sage daily and also clary calm daily x 2

I’ve found taking DDR prime softgels for the week after I stop bleeding has helped immensely – reduced pain, reduced the time and the heaviness. So good!

Further reading

Dr Mariza Snyder: The Essential Oil Hormone Revolution.

 

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