If you have PCOS you may also have an inactive thyroid gland that can complicate your PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid disorders are two of the most common endocrine disorders in women. PCOS is closely associated with metabolic disorders like obesity, prediabetes, and heart problems. There is also a correlation between the existence of PCOS and thyroid dysfunctions at the same time.
Let’s try to understand how PCOS and thyroid are related and what you can do to manage them naturally.
What does the thyroid gland do?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped, 2-inch big gland situated in the front part of your neck. It is a part of the endocrine system, which consists of a number of hormone-producing glands.
The thyroid is responsible for:
- Overall body metabolism
- Heart rate
- Brain & kidney functions
- Reproductive health
- Muscle strength
A dysfunctional thyroid can lead to either of the following disorders:
There is an overproduction of hormone by the thyroid gland resulting in an active metabolism. The most common symptom is weight loss.
- Weight loss
- Muscle pain
- Rapid heart beat
- Anxiety attacks
Insufficient hormone production by the thyroid gland slows down your metabolism rate and an underactive thyroid gland is associated with weight gain over time.
- Puffy face
- Brittle nails
- Weight gain
- Cold intolerance
- Decreased sweating
- Slow heart rate
- Irregular/heavy periods
PCOS and thyroid gland connection
As the thyroid is a hormone-producing gland and PCOS is basically a hormonal disorder, these two closely and mutually affect each other in the following ways:
PCOS and thyroid symptoms
Women with too much or too little thyroid hormones generally experience very light or heavy periods. Abnormal thyroid hormones can also cause your ovaries do not to produce eggs (ovulate) which can lead to delayed periods for months as most commonly observed in women with PCOS.
In hypothyroidism, thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH) are produced by the pituitary gland to direct the thyroid gland to produce more hormones. High (TSH) levels can trigger early menopause and make it difficult to achieve pregnancy.
Hypothyroidism can change the way your body responds to blood glucose and can lead to the development of insulin resistance. This increases the risk of prediabetes which is a very symptom of PCOS.
Moreover, severe insulin resistance results in overproduction of excessive male hormones which can radically worsen your PCOS symptoms.
Though hypothyroidism is not directly associated with weight gain, obesity in disturbed thyroid hormones can result in insulin resistance or type-2 diabetes which causes rapid weight gain. An increase in appetite may also lead to high calorie-intake that makes you put on unwanted weight.
Slow metabolism due to high TSH levels also causes the deposition of excess body fat which makes it difficult to manage PCOS.
Foods to avoid with PCOS and thyroid problems
If you have PCOS you are more prone to having hypothyroidism than hyperthyroidism. To manage your PCOS naturally you need to control your underactive thyroid for which you must distance yourself from these foods:
Foods that have a high GI score are considered bad carbs and must be avoided by people who have hypothyroidism. This will help in managing insulin resistance and prevent the onset of type-2 diabetes which will also decrease the excessive male hormones in PCOS conditions.
- White rice, cakes, sweetened syrups, coke, etc.
- Potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Refined sugar and fruits juice
- Pineapple, watermelon, pears, cherries, etc.
Bad cholesterol foods
When you have an underactive thyroid, the low hormone levels make it difficult for your liver to process blood at a normal rate, it is slowed down. It can lead to higher levels of cholesterol in your bloodstream which can clog your arteries.
If you have high cholesterol levels you are likely to have hypothyroidism. To reduce bad cholesterol from the blood, you need to cut down bad fats, i.e., saturated fats.
- Palm oil
- Fatty meat
- Poultry skin
- Dried coconut
- Dairy products
- Ice cream
- Egg yolk
- Red meat
- Potato fries
Highly processed foods and salt
These foods contain preservatives in large quantities, i.e., sugar and salt. High sodium levels can be bad for you if you have an underactive thyroid and may lead to high blood pressure.
- Instant noodles
- Ready-to-eat packed foods
- Canned food
High fiber diet
Though fiber is good for your gut, you should avoid eating foods that contain fiber in large amounts. If you increase your dietary fiber intake you will need more thyroid hormones (T4) to process and digest, which your thyroid is unable to produce sufficiently. This may lead to constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Black beans
- Chia seeds
If you have an iodine deficiency, some chemicals found in soy can adversely affect your thyroid’s ability to produce hormones and even block the artificial hormones in medicines to be absorbed. Therefore, you must keep your iodine demand fulfilled through natural foods or controlled amounts of iodized salt.
- Soy milk
- Soy beans
To sum up
PCOS and thyroid problems, both are endocrine disorders that can mess up your other glands and can wreak havoc on your metabolic health. PCOS side effects can be managed with the help of natural ayurvedic remedies and regular yoga practice. Thyroid function can be taken care of by consuming sufficient iodine and avoiding harmful foods.
Can PCOS cause thyroid problems?
Yes. PCOS is an endocrine disorder caused by a poor lifestyle, diet, and genetics. The occurrence of PCOS is associated with a high incidence of thyroid disorders, mainly hypothyroidism.
Is a thyroid problem serious?
Yes. The thyroid plays many important roles like body growth, development, appetite, and metabolism. A dysfunctional thyroid can cause hindrance in all these important biological functions and can lead to metabolic disorders that may result in diabetes, obesity, and PCOS.
Can I get pregnant with PCOS and thyroid?
Pregnancy with both PCOS and thyroid can be difficult and complicated. Hypothyroidism and PCOS can lead to irregular ovulation and the early onset of menopause. But PCOS infertility can be cured with natural ayurvedic treatment.
What happens if PCOS is left untreated?
- Type-2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Metabolic disorders
- Severe mood swings/ depression