What Should Women With PCOS Know About Hypothyroidism? | Two Conditions Are Different but Interlinked

What Should Women With PCOS Know About Hypothyroidism? | Two Conditions Are Different but Interlinked

Women with PCOS are at greater risk of developing Hypothyroidism.

Representative Image Source: Getty Images/Henadzi Pechan

Two of the most prevalent and possibly underdiagnosed endocrine (hormonal) conditions in women are polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid issues. PCOS "is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels." 


Hypothyroidism is, "a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain crucial hormones." Although PCOS and hypothyroidism differ greatly, they also have a lot in common, reports Verywell Health.


Here are five things women with PCOS should know about hypothyroidism to avoid any health complications.


1. Women with PCOS develop hypothyroidism more frequently

People with PCOS are more likely to have hypothyroidism, particularly Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Hashimoto's is an autoimmune condition in which the thyroid gland is attacked by the body, causing hypothyroidism. According to an Indian research from 2013, 22.5 percent of women with PCOS and 8.75 percent of women without PCOS had hypothyroidism. According to a National Institutes of Health research from 2015, 22.1 percent of women with PCOS and 5% of women without the condition had Hashimoto's thyroiditis.




2. Hypothyroidism can worsen PCOS

Ovarian enlargement and cyst development are known effects of hypothyroidism, which affects the ovaries similarly to PCOS. The symptoms of PCOS, such as a higher chance of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, are often made worse by hypothyroidism. Testosterone is produced more often when hypothyroidism is present, raising the possibility of PCOS symptoms.


Additionally, too much testosterone can prevent healthy ovulation by interfering with the growth of follicles, i.e. the sacs in the ovaries where eggs form.



3. Hypothyroidism causes complications with PCOS

The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland, situated near the base of our throat, controls how quickly your body turns food into energy. In addition to influencing the menstrual cycle and fertility, thyroid hormones also aid in heart rate regulation. If the thyroid gland is functioning too slowly (hypothyroidism), metabolism slows down causing weight gain, a symptom for many women with PCOS, according to a 2009 research.



4. Iodine regulation plays a major role in both conditions

Iodine is necessary for the thyroid to produce hormones. Dairy products, poultry, beef, pig, fish, and iodized salt are the primary dietary sources of iodine. The proper quantity of iodine is necessary to maintain a balance in T3 and T4 production. Both too little and too much can cause or exacerbate hypothyroidism.


In light of this, women with PCOS who have been identified as having (or are at risk for having) hypothyroidism should pay additional attention to the amount of iodine they consume.



5. Hypothyroidism is often unrecognized

A hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is produced by the pituitary gland controls the release of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. You may be hypothyroid if your TSH levels are abnormally high, though this alone is not the final indicator.



To determine whether you have an autoimmune thyroid illness like Hashimoto's, the diagnosis also calls for a number of T3 and T4 tests as well as an anti-TPO test. Hypothyroidism can be difficult to diagnose, leading to frequent misdiagnosis in women with PCOS.

Though lifestyle changes can help manage PCOS and hypothyroidism, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for treatment and management of the conditions. 








Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Henadzi Pechan

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.