If you have a weight problem in spite of adopting a healthy diet and regular exercise, it could be due to an under-active thyroid gland – a condition also called hypothyroidism, which affects many women with PCOS.
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, laboratory tests and a doctor’s exam to screen thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), 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.