Getting back to your optimal health sometimes can be a long process. Maybe you have been diagnosed with the Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or Hypothyroidism but treating either doesn’t give you the outcome you have been wishing for. There may be a chance you are diagnosed for the wrong condition or have both.
PCOS and Hypothyroidism are two of the most common endocrine disorders in the US. In fact around 1 in 10 women in their reproductive age has PCOS. 1
What is PCOS?
If you are uncontrollably gaining weight, have irregular menstrual cycles, acne, and too much hair on the face or on other body parts where men usually have hair you may have PCOS. Even though it is an incredibly common condition, its root cause is still unknown and the treatment is mostly symptom based.
Factors that might play a role are:2
- Insulin resistance
- Low-grade inflammation
- Hereditary component is believed to play a role, suggesting that certain genes may be linked to PCOS.
To be diagnosed with PCOS two out of the following three symptoms need to be positive:3
- Irregular periods
- High levels of testosterone or excess of androgens
- Polycystic ovaries
PCOS and Hypothyroidism
As you may have noticed, many of the symptoms typical for PCOS are also common symptoms for patients with Hypothyroidism. This makes it sometimes hard to distinguish which of the conditions are in fact prevalent or if you even have both. It has been shown that women with Hypothyroidism have a higher chance to also develop PCOS. It is even known that hypothyroidism can lead to enlarged and cystic ovaries.4
What is known is that both conditions can negatively influence each other. If your Insulin levels are high, this can lead to an impaired conversion from T4 to T3 leading to a reduced thyroid function which again can lead to weight gain, hair loss, and hormonal imbalances which like in a vicious cycle negatively impacts PCOS.
Both conditions, Hypothyroidism and PCOS, have a lot of similarities making it difficult to distinguish the symptoms. Additionally, each of these conditions can negatively influence the other leading to a negative downwards spiral. If you were diagnosed with one of the two conditions but feel like the treatment is not working you may ask your doctor to check for the other to make sure nothing is being overlooked.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome | Office on Women’s Health. Accessed August 20, 2021. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439
- Polycystic ovary syndrome – Diagnosis. nhs.uk. Published October 20, 2017. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/diagnosis/
- Dharmshaktu P, Kutiyal A, Dhanwal D. Vanishing large ovarian cyst with thyroxine therapy. Endocrinol Diabetes Metab Case Rep. 2013;2013:130050. doi:10.1530/EDM-13-0050