Those of us with PCOS can be prone to an under-active thyroid gland – a condition also called hypothyroidism.
This disorder may lead to an increase in free testosterone, the latter being one of the factors contributing to PCOS symptoms such as infertility, polycystic ovaries, excess facial and body hair male pattern hair loss and acne. Women with hypothyroidism are also more likely to have the classic PCOS symptom of velvety, hyper pigmented skin folds called acanthosis nigrans.
The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck in front of the windpipe. It makes, stores and releases two hormones – T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). Thyroid hormones set your metabolic “thermostat.” If hypothyroidism has switched that thermostat to “low”, it can be very difficult to lose or control weight for better management of PCOS.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue or weakness, weight gain, menstrual problems, lower body temperature, cold hands and feet, inability to focus, constipation, depression, muscle aches, brittle nails, dry skin and hair loss.
Thyroid disease is usually diagnosed by a combination of symptoms, a doctor’s exam to screen thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and lab tests, though TSH doesn’t always respond correctly to low thyroid hormone levels.
Consult your doctor if you think you may have undiagnosed hypothyroidism because it could be complicating your PCOS problems, especially if you have a weight problem in spite of consistent efforts with diet and exercise.