Thyroid and PCOS: The Connection and Differentiation

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Thyroid and PCOS: The Connection and Differentiation

PCOS and thyroid conditions are linked. Studies show that people who are suffering from PCOS may develop thyroid issues as well. But the thing to understand is that many times women misdiagnose themselves, as the symptoms of both conditions are quite similar. If you, or someone you love, has been going through symptoms that resemble PCOS or thyroid problems, then the very first thing you need to do is see a doctor.

You could be suffering from both conditions, but treatment can only begin once proper diagnosis is made by your doctor. Here is all the information you need about both disorders.

What are PCOS and Thyroid Issues?

PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition where the ovaries contain multiple small cysts inside which in turn causes irregular menstrual cycle, problems with fertility and imbalance of sex hormones. This disorder is very common and 12% of women face it. Just because you have an irregular cycle does not mean that you have PCOS.

For the diagnosis to be made, you need to either have cysts in the ovaries, irregular periods or anovulation (a condition where eggs are not formed) and elevation of male hormones. It is true that women who are suffering from polycystic ovaries have a difficult time becoming pregnant and may lose the baby in their early pregnancy. Only a doctor will truly be able to tell whether or not you have the condition.

Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland is unable to secrete enough thyroid hormone and that gives rise to many deficiencies and side effects. The thyroid gland is responsible for the production of thyroid hormones, which is responsible for the metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate of the body.

Research has confirmed that women who have PCOS are at a greater risk of developing hypothyroidism. This is because their hormones are not able to collaborate in the manner required. But please remember, this is not must and they may be linked but do not automatically invite the other to join in.

The reason why people become confused about hypothyroidism and PCOS is that there symptoms are similar. Here are some common symptoms of both disorders.

  • Increase in weight
  • Fatigue and constant feelings of tiredness
  • Irregular periods
  • Bloating
  • Skin issues like adult acne, discoloration and pigmentation
  • Low sex drive
  • Anovulation
  • Hair loss on the head but abnormal facial hair growth or body hair growth
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Infertility
  • Sleep deprivation or sleep apnea

These symptoms occur for both thyroid problems as well as PCOS, hence the reason that diagnosis can get mixed up. What comes to mind is this, why are the two conditions linked? Researchers believed that the hormones that get imbalanced can lead to either hypothyroidism or PCOS when one already has the other condition.

It is interesting to note that one study performed on women with both hypothyroidism and PCOS were given hormone replacement therapy. The results showed that not only did the thyroid hormones stabilize, but cysts in the ovaries also reduced significantly, along with the volume of the ovaries.

So the simple answer is this, if you have thyroid issues then your ovaries will get enlarged and could give rise to the risk of developing polycystic ovary. Likewise, if you have PCOS then your thyroid hormone will go ballistic and could lead to the problem of hypothyroidism.

There is still not enough studied proof to suggest that the conditions are dependent or fully linked to each other. But the problem is there and needs to be given thoughts. If you have either of the problems, you need to get the other thing checked as well.

Just because you have PCOS and hypothyroidism most certainly does not mean that both the conditions will be given similar treatments. Yes their symptoms are alike, but their own diagnosis and treatment options are completely different. Now that you know you are suffering from one or both, you need to make sure that they are treated immediately.

Treating Hypothyroidism

If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you will be given medications like Levothyroxine, Synthroid etc. These are synthetic thyroid hormones that help in keeping the levels as per your body needs.

Do not use these medications without getting an okay from your doctor. Only they can tell you the right dosage, and for how long you will need to follow the medication course.

Treating PCOS

PCOS can becan be managed effectively with diet and lifestyle changes. In serious cases, where infertility becomes a problem, women are given medication like Glucophage, folic acid and metformin for treatment. Here are some ways to keep your PCOS issues under control.

Weight Loss

This is something that your doctor will talk to you about immediately if your weight is even slightly above normal. The more fat your body stores, the worse your PCOS will get. Losing just 5 pounds can make a good reduction in your PCOS concern.


The less processed foods you eat, the better. For example, chickens are given growth hormones, which are likely to further your PCOS problem. So eat as much organic and hormone free food as you can. Even when it comes to fruits and vegetables, opt for ones that are organic. Cut out your consumption of processed and junk food as well.


Exercise is the best way to remain fit and healthy, it will ensure that you do not put on the pounds. So be sure to exercise 3-5 days a week for 40-60 minutes. You will notice difference almost immediately.

So you think you have hypothyroidism, PCOS or both? Don’t keep waiting for the situation to invite other diseases to attack.  Talk to your doctor and get help.


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