It’s not easy to hear that something you can’t control puts you at an increased risk for a health condition, but understanding what to expect is the best first step forward in getting the help you need, especially when it comes to hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is very common, and virtually anyone can develop it, but there’s a little more to the story. Dr. Michael Skardasis and our team at Optimal Performance Medicine in Woodstock, Georgia, have seen firsthand how hypothyroidism and other thyroid problems affect men and women differently.
Here, we investigate the possible culprits behind this gender disparity to help you make informed decisions about your health.
Getting to know your thyroid
Your thyroid, a small gland at the front of your throat, releases hormones that regulate growth and development. They also control your metabolism, heartbeat, and body temperature, among other important functions.
That’s when it’s working properly.
Unfortunately, your thyroid is vulnerable to developing problems. Anything from autoimmune disease to your medications can affect your thyroid and lead to conditions like hypothyroidism.
With hypothyroidism, your thyroid underproduces hormones, which triggers an avalanche of frustrating, uncomfortable symptoms, such as:
- Muscle weakness
- Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Puffy face
- Dry skin
- Thinning hair
- Low body temperature
Hypothyroidism can even affect your cognitive abilities, such as memory and focus, as well as your mental and emotional health.
Women and hypothyroidism
The Office on Women’s Health estimates that one in every eight women will develop a thyroid problem during her lifetime. The American Thyroid Association reports that women are more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism.
If those facts aren’t disheartening enough, no one fully understands why women are more at risk. One of the leading theories suggests that because women are more likely to have an autoimmune condition, they’re consequently more prone to thyroid problems.
Many blame hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause — some women even mistake thyroid problems for menopausal symptoms. Hypothyroidism can happen at any stage of life, but it’s especially common during and after significant hormone shifts. Other experts claim there’s a genetic predisposition at play.
But it doesn’t stop there. Not only are women more likely to have thyroid problems, but those problems also cause other health issues, including:
- Delayed or early onset of puberty
- Light or heavy menstrual cycles
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Fertility problems
- Pregnancy complications, such as premature labor
- Early menopause
Fortunately, there’s hope in treatment.
Getting help for hypothyroidism
Thyroid problems don’t usually announce themselves with fanfare. The symptoms are subtle and easy to pin on other health issues, so if you’re feeling off and you aren’t sure why, Dr. Skardasis starts by testing your hormones. All it takes is a small blood sample because hormones are released directly into your bloodstream.
If we discover that your hormone levels are off, we usually recommend a course of hormone therapy to restore balance and relieve your symptoms. We also work with you to establish healthy lifestyle changes that help your body help itself. That often includes diet and exercise coaching, weight loss support, stress management, and even sleep counseling.
Dr. Skardasis and our team understand the nuances of hypothyroidism, especially where gender differences are concerned, and we can create a treatment plan that’s right for you. It’s our goal to support your overall health rather than simply mask a few frustrating symptoms.
If you suspect you have a thyroid problem and you’d like to get started on a medically supervised program, we’d love to talk with you. Call our friendly staff at 678-250-0700 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment today.