I often refer to our hormone system as being a 3-legged stool, in which the hormones are all connected. This is why thorough hormone panels are important if you suffer from any single hormone issue, such as hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can affect estrogen levels in a few ways. First, it can lead to an overproduction of estrogen in the tissues. At the same time, hypothyroidism can decrease your liver’s ability to detoxify estrogen. Both of these combined can lead to higher circulating levels. This, in turn, can lead to decreased production of progesterone. In short, this creates estrogen dominance, which may be why women have a 7-fold higher incidence of hypothyroidism.
Estrogen dominance appears to lead to an increase in thyroid-binding globulin. As the name suggests, this is when the thyroid hormone binds up, making it unavailable to the tissues. Sometimes symptoms of low thyroid can actually be more about estrogen dominance!
High estrogen levels have been shown to impact thyroid cells, possibly increasing thyroid antibodies and autoimmune thyroid disease in women. This may be why Hashimoto’s Disease is so much more common in women.
Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) have been shown to have higher rates of autoimmune thyroid disease, possibly by increased estrogen levels and decreased progesterone levels.
Post-menopausal women have been shown to need more thyroid hormones if they are also on hormone therapy (though these studies were with synthetic hormones and not bioidentical hormones).
The thyroid is small but mighty. Fortunately, there are a lot of naturopathic therapies that can help balance hormones! Contact me today to learn more!
Arduc A, Aycicek dogan B, Bilmez S, et al. High prevalence of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: does the imbalance between estradiol and progesterone play a role?. Endocr Res. 2015;40(4):204-10.