Differences Between Thyroid Issues And Menopause
Anyone who has tried to diagnose herself on the internet knows that many symptoms overlap. Search for hot flashes, palpitations (rapid, strong or irregular heartbeats), and weight gain, and you could just as easily diagnose yourself with hypothyroidism as menopause. That's one of the many reasons why expert advice is essential.
Talking to women in their 40s and 50s, I find myself running through a differential diagnosis that often includes thyroid disorders, perimenopause, and menopause. While the symptoms often look very similar, these conditions are very different and require specific interventions. Talking to a doctor about your symptoms is the best way to figure out if your weight gain and mood swings are menopause or hypothyroidism.
The fastest way to eliminate the possible diagnosis of menopause is if the patient is male. Menopause, of course, only happens to women and involves a dramatic decline in an important signaling messenger - estrogen. Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can occur in both men and women. Both involve an alteration in another important signaling messenger - thyroxine (thyroid hormone). This table shows just how much the symptoms of these different health issues overlap.
Determining the diagnosis
While health care professionals can often diagnose patients based on symptoms, blood tests can confirm whether you're dealing with retiring ovaries or a confused thyroid gland.
You can test your thyroid hormone levels at home with Paloma's at-home thyroid test kit, and you can work with your primary care provider, gynecologist, or CurieMD provider to check female hormone levels (FSH, estradiol, and progesterone).
These lab results can guide productive discussions and relevant treatment options with your care team.
Should your results show that your thyroid is underactive, it is easily treatable in almost everyone. Optimizing your thyroid levels with thyroid hormone replacement medication is usually the first step in minimizing hypothyroid symptoms. When choosing thyroid medication with your doctor, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment.
If your results show that you're menopausal, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is clinically proven to be one of the most effective, holistic options for managing menopausal symptoms. Every woman experiences symptoms differently from each other, and relief comes faster when treatment and dosage are customized to you.
A note from CurieMD and Paloma Health
Listen to your body and, before you do too much Googling, talk to your health care professional about any symptoms or concerns you may have. With telemedicine and at-home testing, it has never been easier to get access to answers and expertise so you can be an informed advocate for yourself and your loved ones.