When a woman in her late forties begins to have night sweats, gains some weight, has an irregular period, and major mood swings what does everyone assume? She is experiencing perimenopause of course. Well, not so fast.
At the same age the thyroid can begin to malfunction as well. This leads to much confusion for women, and even for doctors. Your doctor may make the same assumption that most of us do. That is why is it so important that every woman educate herself, so that you can ask the right questions when you see your doctor. A simple blood test will distinguish between hypothyroidism and menopause, but unless you ask for it your doctor may not order it.
Fatigue is the first and most common complaint seen in hypothyroidism. This fatigue refers to feeling exhausted even the morning after a full night of sleep. Usually the fatigue of menopause is a result of insomnia, which may in turn be related to hot flashes and night sweats. Conversely, low thyroid hormone robs the body of the feeling of energy and vitality.
Weight gain is another early indicator of hypothyroidism. The thyroid hormones are a main contributor to a metabolic rate. So, when the thyroid is under producing, metabolism slows, and weight gain ensues. Another cause of weight gain in hypothyroidism is water retention. Actually most of the weight gain is water weight, and therefore will be easily lost once the thyroid is corrected.
Many times when women become forgetful, or have difficulty concentrating they blame themselves. They believe they aren’t trying hard enough, or they are “stupid”. If they recognize these symptoms as being out of their control, they may tend to blame menopause. It is true that menopause can cause similar “foggy thinking”. These are also symptoms of low thyroid hormone. With proper treatment, you will be back on top of your game.
It is important to note that even if your lab results are not out of the normal range, they may be low for you. Advocate for your own health, and if necessary get a second opinion if your doctor resists treatment with low dose hormone. Of course, the symptoms may truly be menopause related. In which case, the treatment can be more symptom based.
No matter what the cause, don't suffer through it. There is plenty of help available if you know where to look. If you haven’t found the help you need, get it touch. I can work with your doctor to get you feeling and looking great!