Not everyone knows that there is a link between your thyroid and periods. Both affect many women and overlap in many symptoms. Studies have shown that 17.6% of women with thyroid nodules also have uterine fibroids. In many cases, the best way to determine if you have uterine fibroids is to ensure that a hormonal imbalance in your thyroid isn’t causing your issues.
Where Are They Located?
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your throat, approximately 2 inches in size and an ounce in weight.
Fibroids are growths in, on, and around your uterus. While they are tumors, they are typically non-cancerous. These firm and rubbery masses are linked to your hormones and develop during reproductive ages, typically 15-50 years old.
What Causes Each?
For the causes of thyroid issues, it all starts with your hypothalamus, a part of your brain that links your nervous system and your endocrine system. It takes information from throughout your body to decide which hormones need to be raised or lowered to balance your body. Your hypothalamus controls your pituitary gland, often called the master gland, due to the number of processes it oversees.
One of those is your thyroid function. Your thyroid uses the iodine found in your diet to control your metabolism, converting oxygen and calories into energy. An underactive or overactive thyroid can throw off everything your thyroid controls, including:
- Body temperature
- Heart rate
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Cholesterol levels
- Central nervous system
- Peripheral nervous system
An overactive thyroid occurs if the thyroid gland makes too many hormones, while in an underactive thyroid, the gland doesn’t make enough hormones. These imbalances can result in thyroid diseases such as Grave’s Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, and in extreme cases, Thyroid Cancer.
The cause of uterine fibroids is unknown. What we do know is that fibroids are affected by hormones (especially estrogen) and that they tend to grow or shrink during times of hormonal fluctuation like pregnancy and menopause.
Why Does My Thyroid Affect My Period?
It does so in a few key ways. Your thyroid levels influence whether you ovulate. They also affect globulin production, a protein that protects the hormones in your body. Women with low thyroid production are more likely to develop ovarian cysts. Having high thyroid levels can make your pituitary gland produce prolactin, which prevents the production of estrogen. Additionally, it affects the development of ovarian follicles, impairs insulin sensitivity, and decrease coagulation factors.
How Likely Am I to Have It?
There are lifestyle factors that can affect your likelihood of getting fibroids, such as a diet high in red meat, low in fruits and vegetables, and regularly drinking alcohol. Additional factors that may increase your probability of suffering from fibroids, thyroid disease, or both include:
Effect on Fertility
If getting pregnant is something you are planning for in your life, both uterine fibroids and thyroid issues can complicate that. But don’t give up hope. To treat fibroids in the hopes of improving your fertility, consider a minimally invasive procedure such as UFE. Other methods cut, burn or freeze off your fibroids, whereas embolization uses particles to block their blood supply and shrink them over time.
In some cases, menopause can cause fibroids to shrink, which is why some doctors medically induce menopause in some extreme cases.
What Should I Do Now?
If you feel like the topics that we’ve covered describing your experience, it’s time to talk to a medical professional. To discuss your symptoms and find out if uterine fibroids are what’s affecting your health, schedule a consultation with one of our fibroid specialists. You can schedule an appointment online or in-office. If you are struggling with symptoms, our team is here to support you on your journey to better health.