What’s the link between thyroid and PCOS? Find out about these 2 common endocrine disorders


Missed your period or having an irregular one along with abnormal hair growth or loss or weight gain? These can be signs of any underlying health condition or diseases. But these specific symptoms often make us think if they are associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disorder. These two conditions are different, but there are times when women wonder if there is a link between PCOS and thyroid disorder, which are two of the most common endocrine disorders in reproductive women.

According to Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, it has been noticed that thyroid disorders are more common in women with PCOS as compared to rest of the population. To explore if PCOS is related to thyroid disorder, HealthShots reached out to Dr Hetal More, senior obstetrician-gynecologist at Daffodils by Artemis, Jaipur.

Find out if there is a link between thyroid and PCOS. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What is thyroid?

The small, butterfly-shaped gland right at the front of your neck under your skin is thyroid. It’s a part of your endocrine system and controls many of your body’s important functions by producing and releasing hormones like T3,T4 and TSH. These hormones are important as they control the speed of your metabolism, says Dr More. Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are the two common types of thyroid disorders. Click here to know the difference between hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

It is a metabolic syndrome, which is characterised by anovulation, hyperandrogenism and polycystic ovary. The expert explains that the name polycystic ovary syndrome describes the numerous small cysts that form in the ovaries. So, if you have PCOS, you may not have periods regularly or you may have them that last many days.

Link between PCOS and thyroid

Symptoms of PCOS include

• Irregular menstrual cycles
• Excessive facial hair growth
• Hair thinning
• Acne

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include

• Fatigue
• Weight gain (foods to help with weight loss in thyroid)
• Hair loss
• Irregular menstrual cycles

Yes, abnormal or irregular menstrual cycle and hair thinning or hair loss are seen in both the conditions. But the expert says that there is no evidence to support the link of PCOS and hypothyroidism. She notes that hypothyroidism worsens the symptoms of PCOS, but they are different entities.

thyroid and pcos
Some symptoms of hypothyroidism and PCOS are similar. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Diagnosis

For diagnosis of hypothyroidism, all you need to so is check with your doctor, who may order thyroid function test, which includes serum TSH, free T3 and free T4 (thyroid myths).

For PCOS diagnosis, your gynaecologist can conduct an examination. Your gynaecologist will usually:

• Talk to you about your symptoms and medical history.
• Ask about your family’s medical history.
• Take your weight and blood pressure.
• Perform a physical exam, looking specifically for excess facial hair, hair loss, acne and discoloured skin.
• Perform a pelvic exam to look for swollen ovaries or other growths in your uterus.
• Order blood tests to check hormone levels and glucose levels.
• Perform a pelvic ultrasound to look for cysts in your ovaries and check the thickness of the lining of your uterus.

So, just because one or two symptoms are similar, it doesn’t mean that the two conditions are related. In case of any confusion, just check with your doctor.



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