The PCOS and Thyroid Connection | The Healing Roots

The PCOS and Thyroid Connection

The Connection 

Understanding the root cause of what the heck is going on in your body is key! Are you totally lost when it comes to why you keep gaining weight? Why you can’t get pregnant? Or why you are always tired and feel twice your age?

Thyroid conditions and PCOS are two of the most common endocrine system conditions and many times can have common symptoms.

In fact, thyroid conditions are more common in women with PCOS. 

While cystic changes in ovaries have been reported in women with hypothyroidism. 

Why is there a connection?

The exact mechanism is less known but there is an ability to identify some key links.¬†To keep it simple here they are below. I hope this helps you to better understand your body if you’ve been diagnosed with one or both. Remember, there is always a root cause and your body does have the ability to find balance! Just by reading this, you’re on your way to finding better health!

Connection #1

In women with thyroid conditions, thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) leads to increased prolactin levels and increased thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

High prolactin levels contribute to polycystic ovaries. Ovulation can be inhibited, which results in changes of FSH and LH levels. 

Connection #2

54-68% of women with PCOS have a high body mass index (BMI). With higher BMIs and obesity there is an increase in pro-inflammatory markers and insulin resistance.

High TSH levels are associated with insulin resistance, high BMI and adipocytes (fat cells). 

Connection #3

Females with PCOS have been shown to have high thyroid antibodies resulting in autoimmune thyroid conditions. 

Treatment & Lifestyle Change

In many cases, thyroid medication or metformin may be part of a treatment plan for women with PCOS or hypothyroidism. This study has shown the link between metformin and TSH levels. Metformin has also been shown to lower TSH levels in those with clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism. 

The key takeaway here is understanding the root cause of your diagnosis to better understand what type of treatment and lifestyle approach is appropriate for you.

1. Understand your thyroid levels

Work with an integrative or functional medicine provider who will review and interpret a full thyroid panel.

This includes:

TSH

Free T4

Free T3

Reverse T3

Thyroid Antibodies (thyroid peroxidase & thyroglobulin antibodies)

2. Make changes in the diet

Changing diet for PCOS and the thyroid can help make incredible changes in symptoms and mean the difference between managing or struggling with a syndrome. For PCOS specifically, it’s important to focus on whole food choices that incorporate protein, healthy fats and plenty of fiber.

A good start is cutting out or decreasing key inflammatory foods. Here is a list below:

-Refined grains

-Processed sugar

-Vegetable oils

-Conventional meat, dairy and seafood products

3. Address inflammation in the body

Inflammation can contribute to changes in the thyroid or contribute to PCOS.

Work with a provider to identify any toxins, gut dysbiosis, stress or nutritional deficiencies that may be lingering.

4. Supportive foods for the thyroid

Key nutrients can support proper thyroid function. Nutrients like vitamin D, selenium and magnesium are especially helpful. In client care, I often see women deficient in these key vitamins and minerals. Here are some key foods to add:

-brazil nuts

-pumpkin seeds

-pasture raised eggs

-leafy greens

-avocados 

-wild caught seafood 

What’s next?

Okay, so now you have a better understanding about this connection. But now what? It can take a total body approach to truly addressing the imbalances (as you’ve read about).

Please check out these additional resources, here!

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