Back to Thyroid-Info Home Page




Thyroid Problems and Menopause


by Mary Shomon

"By the end of this year, an estimated 50 million American women will have reached menopause; they will account for approximately 18% of the total U.S. population."
-- AACE

"An estimated 1 in 3 women over age 40 who are on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for symptoms of menopause continued to experience symptoms."
-- AACE


There are two critical issues to consider in terms of the relationship between thyroid disease and menopause. First, the symptoms of thyroid disease and menopause are often the same, so thyroid disease may go undetected in women of menopausal age. Second, symptoms of thyroid disease often worsen during the onset of menopause, due to hormonal shifts. Let's take a look at these issues in greater depth.

The symptoms of thyroid disease and menopause are often the same, so thyroid disease may go undetected in women of menopausal age.

According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), millions of women suffering a variety of unresolved symptoms thought to be menopause-related -- even while treated with estrogen -- may actually be suffering from undiagnosed thyroid disease. The two conditions often develop in women at the same general age, and they often appear at the same time as well. In addition, they share several common symptoms -- such as fatigue, mood swings, depression and sleep disturbances. The AACE survey found that only one in four women who have discussed menopause with a physician were recommended to be tested for thyroid disease. Perhaps even more astounding, one third of women 40 years of age and older surveyed did not discuss menopause at all with their physician.

For more information, see the AACE site, and the AACE press release on menopause and thyroid disease.

Is it Thyroid Disease or Menopause?
Thyroid Disease Menopause
Age Can strike anytime, but most commonly found in 1 in 8 women between 35 and 65, and nearly 20%, 1 in 5, of all women over 65 Menopause most commonly begins around ages 45-50, with perimenopausal symptoms sometimes starting as early as 35-40
Similar Symptoms Exhaustion, Brain Fog, Poor Memory, Depression, Lethargy, Changes in Mood or Energy, Skin Changes, Hair Loss, Changes in Hair Texture, Change in Libido/Sex Drive, Sleep Disturbances, Increased Anxiety, Nervousness, Heart Palpitations, Irregular or Missed Menstrual Periods
Symptom Differences If you are having neck pain, visual disturbances, swelling of arms/legs, loss of hair from eyelashes or eyebrows, extreme weight fluctuation, these are probably more likely to be thyroid- related symptoms. If you are having hot flashes/night sweats, or vaginal dryness, these are probably more likely to be related to menopause.
Getting Tested Ask the doctor for a TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test as a starting point. Ask the doctor for a FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) test to evaluate your estrogen levels.

Symptoms of thyroid disease often worsen during the onset of menopause, due to hormonal shifts.

For an indepth look at this issue, see Pat Rackowski's excellent article, Thyroid Disease and Menopause

Useful Menopause Links

North American Menopause Society's homepage
Menopause Online, good overview site
Menopause newsletter, book list, interviews with experts
Canadian menopause newsletter





Back to Thyroid-Info Home Page