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Women and
Thyroid Health

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What Is The Thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the neck that produces hormones that control the body’s growth and metabolism.

The two main hormones produced by the thyroid gland are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) which is the active form of T4.

Thyroid stimulating hormone is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain and regulates the production of T3 and T4.

Thyroglobulin is a protein stored in the thyroid gland which aids the production of the thyroid hormones.

What are the main thyroid conditions?

Thyroid disorders affect 1 in 20 people in the UK, with women being six times more likely than men to have a thyroid imbalance such as overactive thyroid known as hyperthyroidism. The three main thyroid conditions are:

1. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)

Hyperthyroidism is caused when the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. It can affect anyone and happens between the ages of 20 and 40.  It is 10x more common in women than in men. AS thyroid hormones regulate the body’s metabolism an overactive thyroid can cause rapid weight loss and an irregular heartbeat.

High T3 and T4, combined with low levels of TSH are indicative of an overactive thyroid.

2. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

Hypothyroidism is caused when the thyroid gland produces too little of the thyroid hormones. If left untreated it can lead to health problems such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.

Low levels of T3 and T4 with high levels of TSH are associated with an underactive thyroid.

3. Thyroiditis

Thyroiditis is when the thyroid gland becomes inflamed and swells causing either high or low levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. There are several different types of thyroiditis, one of which is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis caused when the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland causing it to swell. As the thyroid gland is slowly destroyed by the immune system it’s stops functioning properly causing reduce levels of thyroid hormones. This results in hypothyroidism.

If you have hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), then your thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone and causing your body’s cells to work at a faster rate.

What Are the Symptoms of
An Overactive Thyroid?

Thyroid conditions
x6 more likely
women are six times more likely to have a overactive thyroid problem than men.
Thyroid conditions
1/20 people
have thyroid disorders in the UK.

The difference between an underactive and an overactive thyroid are the levels of hormones the gland produces. For that reason, the symptoms can differ according to how fast or slow your body’s cells are working.

If you have hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid), then your thyroid is producing too much thyroid hormone and causing your body’s cells to work at a faster rate.

The symptoms of an overactive thyroid, include:

  • Feeling nervous, anxious, or irritable
  • Mood changes
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Itchiness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Sensitivity to heat

The condition can also cause physical symptoms which you or close friends and family may find more noticeable such as:

  • Goitre – a large swelling in your neck
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Loose nails
  • Twitching or trembling
  • Eye problems
  • Warm skin
  • Excessive sweating

What Are the Symptoms of
An Underactive Thyroid?

An underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder. Because your cells are working too slow as a result of too little thyroid hormones being produced, it can cause:

  • Feeling tired
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Low sex drive
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Slow movements and thoughts
  • Brittle hair and nails
  • Irregular or heavy periods
Thyroid And Women's Health

Thyroid And Pregnancy

Although uncommon, women who have recently given birth can suffer from postpartum thyroiditis – it’s most common in women with type 1 diabetes.

Postpartum thyroiditis is when the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes a temporary rise in thyroid hormone levels and presents as symptoms of an overactive thyroid. This generally occurs within the first 6 months of giving birth.

After a few weeks the thyroid gland is depleted of thyroid hormones and the woman will present with symptoms of an underactive thyroid.

This is a temporary condition with the thyroid gland function returning to normal within a year after giving birth. However, low levels of T3 and T4 can persist so should be checked.

Thyroid And Menopause

Some of the symptoms associated with thyroid disorders are similar to menopause symptoms. So, it’s common for these symptoms to be diagnosed as menopause.

For example, an underactive thyroid shares many symptoms with the menopause and hypothyroidism is most common in menopausal aged women. It is important to distinguish between the menopause and a thyroid issue or if, indeed, you are experiencing both.

It’s particularly important because both can increase the risk of long-term health complications such as heart disease and osteoporosis.

Forth CE Marked Kit

What's included in a thyroid test?

Forth CE Marked Kit

The Advanced Thyroid blood test checks key thyroid hormones TSH, FT4 and FT3 together with thyroid antibodies to establish if your thyroid is functioning correctly.

What's Included?

Thyroid Test Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions about our home thyroid blood test. If you have any further questions please contact us at [email protected].