Is High Estrogen Causing Your Hypothyroid Symptoms?Aug 26, 2020
Hands up if you’ve ever felt hormonal!
If you are or have ever been a cycling woman, the answer is heck yeah! Every day, your reproductive hormones are at different levels. Follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, testosterone, and your cycle superstars, estrogen and progesterone, all change levels on a daily basis.
So, girlfriend, you’re allowed to feel hormonal!
What About Your Thyroid Hormones?
Do they fluctuate throughout the month like your reproductive hormones?
Not even close!
Your thyroid hormone production is pretty consistent on a day-to-day basis. While it doesn’t have a fluctuating monthly pattern like your reproductive hormones, it does ebb and flow a bit throughout each 24-hour day.
Most of your thyroid hormones are produced in the early morning. Your primary hormones T4 and T3, go through conversion processes throughout the day as your tissues and cells use and demand more active hormone.
Although thyroid hormones don’t have monthly highs and lows like your reproductive hormones, many women do notice a change in their thyroid symptoms in the days leading up to and during ovulation. Your four- to five-day ovulation phase might be anywhere from day 12 to 20 of your cycle. If you track your cycles, you should have a pretty good idea of when you ovulate.
This change in symptoms women experience isn’t directly related to an increase or decrease in thyroid hormone production, but rather to the effects of increased estrogens. Estrogen, specifically estradiol, reaches its high point just before ovulation, and this signals to luteinizing hormone to surge which then releases the egg from your fully-developed follicle.
This high level of estradiol causes your body to produce more hormone binding globulins like Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) and Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG). While these are always present to bind up and protect you from excess hormones, they peak during these times of hormone surge.
The increased SHBG and TBG binds up more of your free, circulating thyroid hormone which prevents it from entering your cells. The result is less free, active thyroid hormone for your cells and more of your symptoms like fatigue, digestive challenges, mood changes, headaches, or whatever your unique thyroid symptoms are.
If your thyroid is already a bit sluggish, it might not be able to upregulate its production of more thyroid hormone fast enough to make up for the amount that is being bound up.
You can see how having high estrogen levels AND hypothyroidism can make matters worse. Not only are high estrogen levels increasing SHBG and binding up more of your thyroid hormone, you don’t have enough thyroid hormone to begin with!
Other Symptoms of High SHBG include:
- Weight gain
- Mood changes
- Menstrual irregularities
- Breast tenderness
- Low testosterone levels, especially free testosterone
- Decreased muscle mass
- Low libido
As estrogen levels fall through your luteal phase—the days from ovulation until your period starts—the increased symptoms you were experiencing might dissipate as well. Your SHBG and TBG decrease and more thyroid hormone is left to be free for your cells to use.
Can Thyroid Medication Help?
Not always. If your thyroid is otherwise producing enough thyroid hormone, sending in more won’t necessarily help. This is especially if your increase in symptoms is correlated with specific times in your menstrual cycle. You might actually end up with some of the same bothersome symptoms, or worse, if you get too much thyroid hormone when you don’t need it.
Like excess estrogens, excess thyroid hormone can further increase your SHBG and TBG. It’s your body’s way of protecting you from too much of what she doesn’t need.
A healthier way to address your fluctuating thyroid hormones and the symptoms that go with them is to uncover the real reason why you seem to have less thyroid hormone available.
- Do you have significantly elevated estrogen levels?
- Are your progesterone levels too low in comparison to your estrogen?
- Are environmental toxins adding to your estrogen load?
- Is your liver function a bit slow, preventing estrogen from being sufficiently excreted?
- Are your SHBG or TBG consistently high throughout the month? If so this could correlate with high estrogens or excess thyroid hormone, especially if you’re taking supplemental T3.
- Is stress (physical, emotional, mental, relational, etc) causing additional hormone distress?
- Are you taking or have you recently come off of hormonal birth control? These steroid hormones increase SHBG and can lead to decreased thyroid function.
If you continually notice enhanced thyroid symptoms going into your peak estrogen periods, these are all questions to answer BEFORE starting or increasing thyroid medication or other mood-stabilizing medications.
How Can This Work for You?
These are all questions I help my clients answer as we work together to nourish their thyroid, their fertility, and their full hormone picture.
In addition to serum (blood) labs, the best test to use to evaluate your hormone status and metabolism is the DUTCH test. The Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones measures all of your sex hormones, evaluates how you break them down, measures your cortisol production and its pattern throughout the day, assesses your B vitamin status, and more! Needless to say, it paints your full hormone picture. You can read more about the DUTCH test here.
Once we have your results, we’ll dive deep into the solutions.
We use nutrition and lifestyle interventions to address the true root causes to your hormonal imbalances. Unlike medications that mask your underlying problem and relieve symptoms in the short-term, you’ll learn the right food and lifestyle interventions so you can truly heal from your hormonal roller coaster and embrace the vibrant hormonal health that you deserve!
Are you still going to ride the hormonal roller coaster? Sure! But, you’ll finally be able to put your hands up and enjoy the ride!
If you think your monthly cycle could be affecting your thyroid function and your symptoms, we can talk about that! Click here to set up a FREE strategy session with me. I'll listen to your biggest challenges and you'll learn the exact next steps you need to take to start nourishing your thyroid and all your hormone so you can feel better soon!
In joy and health,
This information is not intended to be personal medical advice. Never start a supplement, change a medication, or make any other modifications to your health regimen without first consulting with your physician or appropriate health practitioner.
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