Symptoms of perimenopause are pretty distinct: mood swings, weight gain, body temperature fluctuations. Clearly someone undergoing perimenopause, right?
Or is it?
Hypothyroidism can cause a lot of these same symptoms and happen around the same time of life. If the thyroid gland isn’t generating enough of the thyroid hormone, a person can start to experience the same fatigue, dry skin, depression, even changes in menstrual cycle—all of which are easy to blame on perimenopause. The fact that hypothyroidism often develops in older women makes it even easier to confuse the two.
The American Thyroid Association (ATA) says more than 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition, and women are five to eight times more likely than men to suffer from thyroid disease. Considering up to 60 percent may be unaware that their symptoms are related to thyroid function, getting educated about the symptoms could have a significant impact on your health and quality of life.
It’s important to determine if what you’re going through is standard perimenopause or if you may be suffering from hypothyroidism. While perimenopause symptoms can be uncomfortable if left untreated, undiagnosed thyroid issues can cause serious issues like heart problems, infertility, joint pain, and obesity, according to WebMD.
What causes hypothyroidism?
According to thyroid.org, there are several causes of hypothyroidism. Most common is an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Because this can develop slowly over many years, sufferers may not even be aware of their illness. Radiation treatment that targets the head and neck in particular may disrupt thyroid function. Inflammation of the thyroid can come from viral infection and have lasting effects. Some medications can interfere with thyroid function as well. If you have any of these indicators or a family history of thyroid concerns, talk with your doctor about testing your thyroid function.
A relatively simple blood test of your T4 (thyroxine) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) should be able to determine if your symptoms are hypothyroidism. If you are suffering this condition, your doctor may put you on a synthetic thyroid hormone to control your symptoms and bring your thyroid hormone levels into a normal range. The good news is hypothyroidism can be managed in most people with the disorder.