PureSea®: Menopause & Thyroid Health

Menopause & Thyroid Health

Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) is a condition in which the thyroid gland is unable to produce the thyroid hormones required for normal health. The group most at risk of hypothyroidism is middle-aged women – it is at this age that women may also start to go through the menopause. This often leads to misdiagnosis since hypothyroidism and the menopause share some similar symptoms.

Since the transition into hypothyroidism and the menopause go hand in hand, it has led researchers to believe that there might be a connection between perimenopause and thyroid function, however, evidence to support this is unclear.1

Regardless of whether you have already been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, or develop it during menopause, it can be troublesome trying to identify which of the two is causing the unwanted symptoms.

Read on to find out more about the connection between the menopause and thyroid health, and how some menopause symptoms may be affected by hypothyroidism.

The effect of estrogen on thyroid function

During menopause, estrogen levels are significantly reduced in the body – this is what causes most of the associated symptoms. However, it is thought that this change in estrogen levels can also affect thyroid function. Research has evaluated the influence of estrogen levels on thyroid receptors - these are the molecules that bind to the thyroid hormones and direct them into the cells where they are needed. The research concluded that estrogen levels may be linked to decreased thyroid function, and subsequently, hypothyroidism.2 However, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between estrogen levels and thyroid function.

Women experiencing menopausal symptoms caused by the change in estrogen levels are commonly given hormone therapy in order to alleviate symptoms. However, the medical management of menopause can impact thyroid disorder symptoms, and vice versa. It is for this reason that a study from 2018 concluded that the decision to use hormone therapy for the treatment of menopause symptoms should be more specifically tailored for women who are experiencing thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism.3

The effect of hypothyroidism on menopausal symptoms

Both estrogen and thyroid hormones act on lots of different cells within the body. Both types of hormones have an integral role to play in regulating body temperature, bone structure, energy, menstruation, metabolism and mood. In light of this, it is unsurprising that many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism and menopause overlap.

Enduring both menopause and thyroid disorder simultaneously can both increase the risk of experiencing symptoms, as well as increasing the severity of them. For reference, the table below shows the potential overlapping symptoms.

Research carried out on menopausal women with thyroid disfunction found that there was a marked improvement in the menopause-related symptoms once the thyroid disorder had been treated.4 These findings suggest that treating thyroid disorders should be first considered when attempting to manage menopause symptoms.

Symptom  Low Thyroid High Thyroid Perimenopause Menopause
Menstruation changes x x x x
Low energy x   x x
Insomnia   x x  
Weight gain x   x  
Mood changes   x x  
Depression x     x
Temperature changes x x x x
Digestive issues x x x x

Hypothyroidism and health complications during menopause

Hypothyroidism during the menopause may also increase the risk of long-term complications. A common complication that arises during menopause is osteoporosis, which is the medical term used to describe a loss of bone density. As thyroid hormones are essential for the normal development and function of the skeleton, thyroid disorders also effect bone density. A review on this topic concluded that hypothyroidism likely leads to an increased risk of fractures.5


(1) Ghianda, S., Tonacchera, M. and Vitti, P. (2014) Thyroid and menopause. Climacteric, 17(3). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23998691/

(2) Santin, A.P. and Furlanetto, T.W. (2011) Role of estrogen in thyroid function and growth regulation. Journal of Thyroid Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3113168/

(3) Uygur, M.M., Yoldemir, T. and Yavuz, D.G. (2018) Thyroid disease in the perimenopause and postmenopause period. Climacteric, 21(6) pp. 542-548. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30296186/        

(4) Badawy, A., State, O. and Sherief, S. (2007) Can thyroid dysfunction explicate severe menopausal symptoms? Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology: The Journal of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 27(5) pp. 503-505. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17701801/         

(5) Tuchendler, D. and Bolanowski, M. (2014) The influence of thyroid dysfunction on bone metabolism. Thyroid Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4314789/