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Low Thyroid Hormone in Menopausal Women

Posted Nov 17 2009 3:57pm

orange fleur okeefe WP

When I was dragging my weary bod around like a lead weight during perimenopause, I figured it was just part of the Change.  But when my hair began thinning, my hands and feet were cold even though I was so hot generally I felt like a living furnace, and my weight was going up, my nurse mind went “Aha!”.  I need my thyroid tested.  Although these symptoms are nonspecific and indeed can be from low estrogen and progesterone, I knew they could also herald hypothyroidism.

So off to my MD I went.  She ordered T3 and T4 levels as well as the more specific blood test TSH which stands for thyroid stimulating hormone.  Basically, this is the hormone that tells your thyroid gland – hey, more thyroid hormone is needed, kick it into gear and produce some.  So if you are low on thyroid hormones this TSH level should be high.

Mine wasn’t.  It was normal. My blood tests were all normal.  I didn’t think much more about it, although the symptoms continued.  My previous MD left her practice and I found a holistic practitioner who is an MD, homeopath, herbalist and runs a complementary medicine clinic.

Complementary medicine is just what is sounds like.   All the tools of Western medicine are used and complemented by other disciplines such as nutritional healing, homeopathy, herbs, massage, acupuncture, and more.  (Also called integrative medicine or holistic medicine.)

This new practitioner performed a complete physical exam and pronounced me hypothyroid as I had every clinical symptom and sign.  The blood tests?  Just not sensitive enough.

Many physicians now believe that hypothyroidism should be diagnosed on the basis of symptoms rather than blood work.  If still unsure that low thyroid hormone is the culprit, they simply place the patient on a very low dose of supplemental thyroid hormone.  If there is improvement, the diagnosis is clear.

I started my Naturethroid and within two days was sleeping through the night, my hands and feet warmed up, I had energy again, and I was calm.  It took longer for the weight gain and hair loss to stabilize, but they did.

And as time has gone on, my dosage of thyroid hormone has been decreased gradually until I take very little.  My own hormone factory has kicked in again.  I have energy and am at my ideal weight.

I’m not sure why, but with the onset of Menopause, it seems that many of us also lose thyroid hormone.  Maybe all our hormones are more intricately linked to one another than we know; maybe it is part of the overall Change.  Whatever the reason, it’s worth checking out.  We may not have to feel so tired, heavy, low energy, and mentally foggy.

To find a practitioner near you, I suggest you check out the American Holistic Medical Association.  Their website is http://www.holisticmedicine.org/ You may also Googling complementary and integrative medicine in your area.

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