Thyroid and Hormone Balance After 40

The Menopause Thyroid Solution Explores Problems in Perimenopause and Menopause

menopause thyroid solution, mary shomon, perimenopause and menopause, thyroid disease

I wanted to let my readers know about the publication of my book, The Menopause Thyroid Solution: Overcome Menopause by Solving Your Hidden Thyroid Problems, published by HarperCollins.

The book is focused on helping two specific audiences of readers:

  • Women in their 40s and 50s who are suffering symptoms often assumed to be related to perimenopause and menopause -- i.e., weight gain, fatigue, moodiness, erratic periods, sleep problems, and loss of sex drive -- who may not realize that these can be symptoms of hypothyroidism -- an underactive, slowed-down thyroid or "thyropause" so to speak.
  • Thyroid patients in their 40s and older who are suffering perimenopausal or menopausal imbalances in their hormones -- including reproductive hormones and adrenal/stress hormones -- that may be destabilizing their thyroid, and causing new symptoms and health concerns
  • Women in their 40s and older are actually the group at highest risk of developing thyroid problems. Rather than suspecting thyroid problems and getting the proper tests and evaluation, however, women are often being given estrogen and progesterone hormone replacement treatment ("HRT"), antidepressants, or sleeping pills -- which miss the real problem entirely, or even make symptoms worse.

And women with thyroid problems don't realize that as early as 40, the shifts in estrogen and progesterone balance -- coupled with excess physical and emotional stress in our lives -- can make it difficult to keep our thyroid conditions and health in balance.

The Menopause Thyroid Solution explores the connection between thyroid problems, perimenopause and menopause, and offers practical guidelines to help women get hormonal issues properly identified, diagnosed and treated.

In addition to thyroid diagnosis and treatment, the book also explains the pros and cons of traditional, natural and bioidentical hormone treatments for estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, pregnenolone, melatonin, and cortisol imbalances.

Effective exercise, mind-body approaches, and complementary options -- including herbs, supplements, and nutrition -- that can help women 40+ balance hormones are also discussed.


(The following excerpt from Mary Shomon's book, Menopause Thyroid Solution, is reprinted with permission.)

Could you be one of the millions of women suffering what you think are perimenopause/menopause symptoms, but actually dealing with an undiagnosed thyroid condition?

I know some of you are thinking, "I'm not fat, so I can't have a thyroid problem." ("Thyroid problem" has become secret code for anyone comedians and advertisers who want to make fun of overweight, middle-aged women.  It's true...some people with thyroid problems do struggle with extra weight. But there are plenty of thin thyroid patients out there too.)

In fact, there's no way to look at yourself in the mirror and rule out a thyroid condition. While many women simply don't know anything about the thyroid, some women have the idea that in addition to weight problems, thyroid patients must have an enlarged or lumpy neck (a goiter), or protruding eyeballs.

Not so. Many thyroid patients have no visible signs at all. The only way to properly diagnose a thyroid problem is for your doctor to conduct a thorough thyroid exam and run the appropriate tests.

But there are some signs that it may be your thyroid.

First, if you are perimenopausal/menopausal, and your doctor has put you on estrogen or hormone therapy, and it’s not working -- or not working well enough -- it could be your thyroid. An estimated one-third of the women who take estrogen therapy still experience symptoms, which are most often attributed to menopause, but may be thyroid-related.

And, as noted, estrogen can actually block thyroid receptors, so if you have a thyroid condition that hasn’t been diagnosed, you might actually feel worse after starting an estrogen drug.

Hormone expert Richard Shames, MD explains:

What is classic for this group is that you can be told you’re in "menopause" -- and not know it's actually your thyroid, you take estrogen. That will help a few of your menopause symptoms, but everything else can be a little worse. You end up gaining weight and losing hair, but you chalk it up to menopause. Meanwhile, the estrogen has decreased your thyroid function even more.

Second, you need to work with a doctor who can help differentiate your symptoms.  According to gynecologist and menopause expert Donna Hurlock, MD :

If you have an underlying thyroid problem, you can replace estrogen all day and all night and it won't improve until you improve thyroid. And if you give estrogen to a woman, and her symptoms get worse, that's often a sign that it's the thyroid as well. I look at the symptoms. It seems in my experience that women who come in before 50 who have erratic periods are more often dealing with an underactive thyroid. If I see hair loss, that's usually a sign that it's thyroid and not menopause. If a woman has dry skin, that thyroid is more often a player than estrogen. Brain fog and fuzziness are more often thyroid than estrogen. And sex drive improves more with thyroid. Vaginal dryness...that is probably estrogen. I was taught that hot flashes are due to lack of estrogen, but that's not always true. Hot flashes and irregular menses can be thyroid. If a woman feels hot for 20 minutes and then it goes, that's often thyroid. If you're estrogen deficient, you should actually be hot to the touch. If a woman has ice cold hands, but feels hot, that’s often thyroid.

What can you do? After all, no one is going to institute mandatory thyroid testing for women over 40.  Thyroid tests aren't part of a standard physical. And no one is even going to make it standard practice to give thyroid tests to women with perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms.

The truth is, it’s up to you.

The ONLY way to find out if your thyroid is causing -- or aggravating -- your symptoms is to insist on getting tested, diagnosed and treated. Because if you are a woman with perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms, you need to get your thyroid evaluated and treated right away -- and the RIGHT way.

There's a catch, of course. The only way it's going to happen may be for  you to be your own advocate.

"But why isn't my doctor doing this?" you may think to yourself. "It's like I have to be my own doctor!" And yes, it is unfair to think that you have to take responsibility, ask for tests that your doctor isn't suggesting, insist that they be properly interpreted, and push for proper treatment when your doctors are indifferent.

But let's get past what's fair, and let's get to what's necessary. You owe it to yourself. Because, like me, you may be one of the millions of women whose health depends a great deal on your thyroid, and unresolved problems in this critical gland will wreak hormonal havoc. Let's look at the reality.

  • Thyroid problems can send you into a far too early perimenopause – starting as early as age 40! –  and it can last for years. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
  • Thyroid problems can worsen any perimenopause and post-menopausal symptoms. This means you multiply the intensity or discomfort of everything from erratic, heavy periods, to hot flashes, to dizziness, to heart palpitations.  You could even end up with an unneeded hysterectomy.
  • Thyroid problems can slow your metabolism and destabilize your blood sugar so much that it’s not only impossible to lose weight, but you actually gain weight -- on fewer calories than everyone else!  And where are you most likely to gain? Where else but your belly, of course!
  • Thyroid problems can make you so depressed, stressed, or both, that you’re prescribed antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and tranquilizers – not to mention sleeping pills. You're trying to stay young, and you can quickly end up living in the Valley of the Dolls!
  • Thyroid problems can impair your memory and make you so foggy-brained that you are needlessly worried you are developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Thyroid problems can raise your cholesterol and triglycerides to such dangerous levels that you must go on medication to protect your arteries and heart.
  • Thyroid problems can elevate your blood pressure to levels that require prescription medications.
  • Thyroid problems can make your hair fall out so quickly that you worry whether you’re actually going to go bald. (Believe me, there are few things as demoralizing for a middle-aged woman than realizing you’re losing your hair!)
  • Thyroid problems can exhaust you to the extent that you have no energy for exercise, which affects fitness, weight, heart disease risk, and quality of life.
  • Thyroid problems can wear down your immune system’s effectiveness to the extent that you catch every infection you’re exposed to, and once ill, are slower to recover.
  • Thyroid problems can deplete your body’s ability to cope with stress so much that you feel extremely tired – yet wired – most of the time, and suffer anxiety and insomnia along with your fatigue.

If we want to truly take charge of our hormonal health, we need to pay close attention to the thyroid.

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