In the month of January dedicated to thyroid awareness, we have a good reason to explore the connection between uterine fibroids and the thyroid gland. The names sound similar, but most people (even doctors) wouldn’t think that there’s a connection between the two because they are located far away from each other in the body. Nevertheless, fibroids and thyroid disorders are connected. They have estrogen dominance in common, and women are often found to have both conditions. Women with low thyroid function (i.e. hypothyroidism) have 3x more likely to have fibroids.
What Is Thyroid, Its Function, and Dysfunction?
The thyroid is a gland that can be thought of as the body’s thermostat. It is located in the base of the neck and produces thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones impact a lot of processes in the body including metabolic rate, heartbeat, and the female menstrual cycle. In fact, all cells in the body have thyroid hormone receptors meaning they have an effect on the entire body. Overproduction of those hormones (so-called hyperthyroidism) and underproduction of them (hypothyroidism) are thyroid disorders that can lead to respectively speeding up or slowing down the body’s functions.
Sometimes, for unknown reasons, the body’s immune system mistakenly perceives the thyroid gland for a foreigner and starts producing antibodies to attack it resulting in inflammation of the thyroid gland. This health condition is called thyroiditis. Thyroiditis often leads to a decreased thyroid function or in other words, hypothyroidism. The most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It is an autoimmune disorder that tends to run in families.
Why do you need to know all that? Well, the reason why we briefly explain thyroid disorders is that estrogen dominance (which plays a significant role in fibroid development) contributes to the thyroid dysfunctions:
- It might stimulate thyroid antibody production and therefore, can worsen thyroid inflammation (thyroiditis);
- It might interfere with thyroid hormone getting into the body cells to exert its metabolic effect.
What Is Estrogen Dominance and Where Does It Come From?
When a female is healthy and her body functions well, her cycle is maintained by hormones balancing each other out: estrogen rises up in the first half of the cycle creating estrogen dominance, and progesterone rises up in the second half of the cycle resulting in progesterone dominance. They work each within its timeline and create a balance during the cycle.
Related: “Fibroids and Estrogen: Are Fibroids Affected by Hormones?”
A Few Important Facts about the Estrogen Dominance
Both, high estrogen and low progesterone have internal and external reasons. Excessive estrogen in women is typically caused by synthetic hormones taken for birth control or menopause, consumption of xenoestrogens from certain foods, plastics, care products, obesity, or lack of estrogen detoxication. Stress and insufficient nutrition might cause low progesterone as well.
Linking Uterine Fibroids and the Thyroid
Uterine fibroids are the most common pelvic tumors in women. They are found in the uterus and often do not cause any symptoms. If they are large or located in critical positions, they can cause bleeding and pressure-related symptoms. Fibroids tend to progress during pregnancy and regress in menopause. Thus, they are considered estrogen-dependent.
Scientists have been trying to understand the relationship between uterine fibroids and the thyroid gland for many years now. Although it remains unclear, they feel certain about the impact of estrogen dominance on both thyroid and fibroids.
Several studies state that women with uterine fibroids are more at risk of having thyroid cancer. Other studies suggested that under-active thyroid function is a risk factor for developing fibroids.
Dealing with estrogen dominance helps in relieving fibroid symptoms. This can be achieved in several ways:
- Increase consumption of colored fruits and vegetables (they contain flavonoids which block an enzyme important in estrogen production),
- adopting a healthier lifestyle, exercise, and maintain the appropriate weight for your frame (excess fat adds exogenous estrogen),
- manage stress,
- get adequate, quality sleep.
Resolving the Fibroid Problem Permanently
Atlanta Fibroid Center is a state-of-the-art medical facility, dedicated to educating women about uterine fibroids and treating fibroids non-surgically. Dr. John Lipman, the Founder and Medical Director of Atlanta Fibroid Center, is one of the top fibroid experts in the country. One of his missions is to reduce the number of unnecessary hysterectomies in the USA that often are the only option given to women suffering from uterine fibroids. That’s because Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is often not mentioned as a treatment option by a woman’s OB/GYN.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is an effective way to treat all of a woman’s fibroids. Compared to surgery, UFE is: safer, less expensive, less invasive, and the recovery time is much shorter. Dr. Lipman has one of the nation’s largest UFE experience and has transformed the lives of thousands of women and their families. To learn more about fibroid symptoms and UFE, please contact Dr. John Lipman at 770-953-2600 or schedule an appointment online at ATLii.com.