An underactive thyroid, also called hypothyroidism, is more prevalent in women than in men. The thyroid’s production of certain hormones falls short, causing disruptions of different processes in the body. Women with hypothyroidism experience varying degrees of slowed thyroid hormone production. The diagnosis and treatment of low thyroid function is relatively easy and gets your body back on track.
The slowed body functioning affects you in many ways. Exhaustion is often a symptom women with low thyroid function experience. You might also experience cold sensitivity, dry skin, aches, weakness, heavy periods, weight gain and constipation. Many of the symptoms are associated with other conditions, but frequent complaints of one or more of the symptoms is worth a call to your physician.
Low thyroid function stems from several different potential causes. Pregnancy affects thyroid functioning in some women and can negatively affect an unborn child. Certain medical conditions and procedures, including congenital thyroid problems, pituitary disorders, surgery on the thyroid, autoimmune disease, certain medications and radiation therapy, sometimes cause hypothyroidism. The treatment for an overactive thyroid, called hyperthyroidism, can cause a permanent slowdown of thyroid function.
A blood test diagnoses low thyroid function in women. The blood test measures the amount of particular thyroid hormones present to diagnose hypothyroidism and determines how severe the case. If you experience symptoms of an underactive thyroid, ask your doctor to perform the blood test.
Since the thyroid does not produce enough hormones, a synthetic drug is used to make up for the low levels in the body. The medication is a daily pill. A repeat of the blood test is likely to make sure the dosage of the medication is correct. Your physician will have you retest at least once a year after the proper dose is established to make sure there aren’t any fluctuations that affect the dosage.
The synthetic hormones prescribed for low thyroid function are often affected by other things you consume. Supplements of iron or calcium can affect the absorption of the medication, making it less effective. High fiber or soy consumption can also affect your thyroid medication.