Premenstrual syndrome, more commonly known as PMS, is an exceptionally common and frustrating condition.
Even though a great deal of research has already been done concerning the mechanisms of PMS its cause is not yet entirely understood. However, research has shown that hormone balance plays a significant role in its occurrence. As such, hormone-influencing systems such as the thyroid may be an important element in determining PMS occurrence and severity. Therefore, being familiar with the relationship between thyroid function and PMS may improve your understanding of and ability to alleviate PMS.
What is Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)?
PMS is a condition resulting from a hormonal imbalance most often triggered by menstrual activity. Menstruation is a regularly occurring event that most women experience during their childbearing years. This natural process prepares the body for potential pregnancy and involves the production and mobilization of many different hormones. Chief among them being progesterone and estrogen. Both of these play pivotal roles regarding women’s health and influence the occurrence of PMS.
Usually, PMS involves an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone. In healthy individuals, estrogen levels increase significantly during the first half of menstruation. During the latter portion of the menstrual cycle, estrogen values begin to decline and progesterone levels rise to restore hormonal equilibrium. Unfortunately, this sequence of events does not always go as intended. Many women experience hormonal irregularities and imbalances during menstruation that result in the development of PMS.
PMS can trigger many uncomfortable and frustrating symptoms. Women with PMS may experience a wide range of symptoms including:
- Breast tenderness
- Cravings or overeating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability or moodiness
- Mood irregularities
- Weight gain
Some women may experience all of the above issues or only a small selection. Depending on the individual, symptoms of PMS appear at different frequencies and intensities. Influencing factors of PMS symptoms include, but are not limited to, environment, lifestyle habits, diet, and stress level. Another highly influential factor is individual thyroid function.
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small but essential gland that influences virtually every cell and tissue throughout the body. This impressive scope of interaction is made possible through the production of various thyroid hormones. The most notable being thyroxine (T4), the storage form of thyroid hormone, and triiodothyronine (T3), the active form of thyroid hormone. When maintained at the appropriate values these hormones keep the body running by regulating important functions such as metabolism, brain function, immune activity, and hormone production.
What is Thyroid Disease?
The thyroid is often described as the body’s gas pedal because it is responsible for how fast or slow the various systems, cells, and tissues in the body function. The impressive regulatory influence of the thyroid is clearly seen when the system is not working at its best. Depending on the type of thyroid dysfunction, numerous seemingly disconnected issues may arise. The two most common forms of thyroid disease are hypothyroidism, decreased thyroid activity, and hyperthyroidism, accelerated thyroid activity.
In the case of hypothyroidism, the body does not get an adequate supply of thyroid hormone. If thyroid values remain decreased or continue to decline, the overall bodily function begins to slow and symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty thinking clearly, weight gain, and depression may develop.
In contrast, hyperthyroidism, or increased thyroid activity, causes an excess of thyroid hormone resulting in a hastening of bodily function. Increased prevalence of thyroid hormone can contribute to symptoms such as anxiety, excessive sweating, weight loss, insomnia, and irritability.
The impact of thyroid disease is broad. In addition to a wide range of symptoms, studies suggest that thyroid dysfunction may also contribute to the development or worsening of premenstrual syndrome.
The Connection Between Thyroid Dysfunction and PMS
Women are nearly 10 times more likely to suffer from hypothyroidism than men. It is believed that part of the reason for this may be the relationship between thyroid function and estrogen. Studies suggest that thyroid activity may influence the development of PMS in a variety of ways.
Research shows that hypothyroidism may contribute to estrogen imbalances thereby encouraging the development of various conditions including infertility, fibroids, and PMS. One contributing element is that hypothyroidism promotes fat retention. Fat cells produce estrogen meaning that as a person becomes increasingly overweight their estrogen levels are likely to rise. This can be problematic as increased production of estrogen without a similar increase in progesterone encourages greater PMS symptom severity and prolongs their duration. Furthermore, hypothyroidism itself encourages symptoms associated with PMS such as moodiness, fatigue, depression, and others. This instigation of similar symptoms can make it seem as though PMS is becoming more severe even though the thyroid is actually at fault.
Studies also show that PMS, or more specifically elevated estrogen values, may contribute to the development of thyroid issues. If estrogen levels are maintained at a heightened value, the amount of thyroid-binding globulin (TBG) in the bloodstream increases. Thyroid hormones that are attached to TBG cannot interact with tissues or be converted into the active form of thyroid hormone to push down the metabolic gas pedal. This effectively cripples thyroid function resulting in hypothyroidism, which may produce symptoms similar to PMS, a worsening of estrogen balance, and a subsequent increase in PMS severity.
Even though the relationship between thyroid function and PMS is not yet fully understood, it is clear that they have a notable influence on one another. As such, if PMS is severe or symptoms appear to be getting worse, it is important to consider the possibility of an underlying thyroid condition.
Treating the Thyroid to Improve PMS
When dealing with PMS, it can be difficult trying to identify the root cause. Many people assume it is just how their body works and there is no hope for improvement. However, it may be possible to alleviate PMS and its related symptoms by identifying and resolving contributing factors.
Research suggests that thyroid disease and PMS have a mutually influential relationship that can result in a negative feedback loop of worsening symptoms. Therefore, identifying and resolving any existing thyroid dysfunction is an essential part of improving PMS. If you are experiencing symptoms of PMS speak with your doctor about getting a thorough thyroid assessment. Effectively treating an underlying thyroid condition may be the key to eliminating your PMS troubles.
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve and a treatment plan that is personalized to your specific condition. We can help you both uncover and treat the underlying cause of your PMS symptoms. If you are among the 80% of women suffering from PMS symptoms, give us a call at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!