Missed or irregular periods accompanied by abnormal hair growth or loss or weight gain? These can be signs of any underlying health conditions or diseases. But these specific symptoms often make us think whether they are associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a thyroid disorder. These two conditions are different, but there are times when women wonder if there is a connection between PCOS and thyroid disorders, which are two of the most common endocrine disorders in reproductive women.
According to Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, it has been noticed that thyroid disorders are more common in women with PCOS compared to the rest of the population. To determine if PCOS is related to a thyroid disorder, HealthShots contacted Dr. Hetal More, Senior Obstetrician-Gynecologist at Daffodils by Artemis, Jaipur.
What is the thyroid?
The small butterfly-shaped gland just in front of your neck under your skin is the thyroid. It is part of your endocrine system and controls many important functions in your body by producing and releasing hormones like T3, T4, and TSH. These hormones are important because they control the speed of your metabolism, says Dr. More. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are the two common types of thyroid disorders. Click here to know the difference between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
It is a metabolic syndrome characterized by anovulation, hyperandrogenism and polycystic ovaries. The expert explains that the name polycystic ovary syndrome describes the many small cysts that form in the ovaries. So if you have PCOS, you may not get your periods regularly or may have periods that last for several days.
Link between PCOS and thyroid
Symptoms of PCOS include
• Irregular menstrual cycles
• Excessive facial hair growth
• Hair thinning
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include
• Weight gain (foods to help lose weight in the thyroid)
• Hair loss
• Irregular menstrual cycles
Yes, abnormal or irregular menstrual cycle and hair thinning or loss are seen in both conditions. But the expert says there is no evidence to support the link between PCOS and hypothyroidism. She notes that hypothyroidism makes PCOS symptoms worse, but they are different entities.
For the diagnosis of hypothyroidism, all you need to do is see your doctor, who may order a thyroid function test, which includes serum TSH, free T3, and free T4 (thyroid myths).
For the diagnosis of PCOS, your gynecologist may perform an examination. Your gynecologist:
• Tell each other about your symptoms and medical history.
• Ask about your family’s medical history.
• Take your weight and blood pressure.
• Perform a physical examination, looking specifically for excess facial hair, hair loss, acne, and skin discoloration.
• Do a pelvic exam to look for swollen ovaries or other growths in your uterus.
• Ask for blood tests to check hormone levels and glucose levels.
• Do a pelvic ultrasound to look for cysts in your ovaries and check the thickness of the lining of your uterus.
So, just because one or two symptoms are similar doesn’t mean the two conditions are related. In case of confusion, simply consult your doctor.
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