Menopause or Thyroid Symptoms: How to Tell?
Feeling tired all the time, an overwhelming sense of fatigue, suffering from ‘brain fog’ and gaining weight without explanation are all common menopause symptoms. But did you know they can also be signs of thyroid problems?
Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, affects around two per cent of women in the UK of average menopause age, and some are unable to determine whether they’re experiencing menopause symptoms or problems with their thyroid.
This can make perimenopause a more confusing and challenging time than it needs to be for some women, so how can you distinguish between menopause and thyroid issues?
Menopause or Thyroid Symptoms?
In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, TV presenter Anna Richardson spoke about her problems distinguishing between thyroid and menopause symptoms, after spending several years sleeping a lot, unable to get out of bed in the mornings, experiencing brain fog, putting on weight despite eating healthily and feeling cold all of the time.
Richardson spoke to her gynaecologist about her problems and was diagnosed as perimenopausal and put on HRT, but found no improvement in her symptoms.
However, a blood test confirmed that she actually had an underactive thyroid, and that was why she was experiencing these symptoms.
But it’s easy to see why she was unsure, as thyroid problems can mimic menopause symptoms. An underactive thyroid can slow your metabolism, which can affect your body’s temperature controls, and leave you feeling tired and gaining weight.
Hypothyroidism can also impact your body’s protein production, leading to aches and pains - again, this is something that many menopausal women suffer from, particularly during post-menopause.
An underactive thyroid can also cause irregular periods and digestion issues, which can be symptoms of menopause too, making it even more difficult to determine the difference between the two.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Professor Simon Pearce of Newcastle University explained: “A lot of people with [hypothyroidism] are undiagnosed. That’s because there is a strong overlap with symptoms of other conditions - the menopause especially.
“Some women may not be menopausal at all, whereas others may have an underactive thyroid gland, as well as being menopausal.”
What to Do If You’re Concerned
If you’re concerned at all about menopause or thyroid problems, you should always speak to your doctor or pharmacist, as they’ll be able to advise on the next steps. Thyroid problems can be diagnosed via a blood test, so this could help to provide you with peace of mind.
Richardson took HRT before receiving her diagnosis, but hormone replacement therapy is a controversial treatment, having been linked to other health problems in the past.
A menopause supplement could be an alternative option, as these contain natural ingredients designed to mimic the effects of oestrogen in your body. However, if you’re concerned about taking these in light of potential thyroid problems, always speak to your GP first.
What If It Is Menopause?
If thyroid problems are ruled out and you are indeed in menopause, there are options to help you to manage your symptoms, including supplements.
For example, Femarelle® menopause supplements contain DT56a, a natural soy derivative that can mimic oestrogen, helping to regulate your hormones and potentially minimise your risk of symptoms like hot flushes and mood swings.
When you have these under control, you could find yourself in a better place to manage your metabolism too, and you should start to feel better in yourself overall; that's what we’re committed to at Menopause Supplements - helping women to feel confident, comfortable and empowered.
Shop the Femarelle® range at Menopause Supplements here.