Thyroid Imbalances and Sex Hormones
Women are 5-8 times more likely to develop a thyroid disorder than men. There are three uniquely female events that can contribute to thyroid disease: menstruation, pregnancy, and birth control pills.
During menstruation hormones are shifted around and around; there is a continuous cycle of estrogen and progesterone that goes up and down like a wave. This constant fluctuation can predispose a woman to various imbalances, like estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance can contribute to thyroid disease. Estrogen dominance is a common menstrual hormone disorder that can arise from stress. During times of high-stress progesterone is decreased, leading estrogen to dominate. Estrogen dominance affects the immune system creating inflammation in the body. This can contribute to autoimmune disorders. In the United States, most hypo and hyperthyroid syndromes are due to autoimmune disorders.
Pregnancy also plays a role in thyroid disease. First, pregnancy puts a huge demand on the thyroid gland. Adequate amounts of the thyroid hormone are required for a mother to be able to sustain a healthy pregnancy, and for the baby to develop and grow. When a women is pregnant the mother's immune system quiets it's signaling down, so the mother and baby can co-exist in the same body. When this system gets off track, autoimmune thyroid disease can occur temporarily during pregnancy and or arise in the postpartum period.
Lastly, birth control pills can also shift the balance of thyroid hormones. One of the reasons, is that hormones used in the pill, don't match hormones produced in the body. They are similar, hormone-like, but they're not the same. The artificial estrogen in the pill still stimulates the estrogen receptor, but the message is distorted. They can jam the receptor open or closed, so they don't function in the same way that estrogen and progesterone do. This causes estrogen dominance because ovulation no longer occurs. Estrogen dominance is a risk factor for thyroid imbalance. Birth control pills also deplete the body of crucial nutrients required for the thyroid to work properly. These include magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Thyroid disorders can be supported with dietary changes, stress management techniques, and blood sugar balancing. Helping my clients heal and reverse thyroid disorders through holistic dietary and lifestyle changes is one of my greatest joys. Fighting a thyroid disorder can be frustrating and difficult, it is completely possible.