Accurate Hormonal Testing Can Detect Thyroid ProblemsVitality Magazine October 2, 2014
by Kelly Nolan BSc. Pharm., Clinic Director
Menopause is a normal, natural process that all women will experience. But for some women, the hypothyroidism goes along with menopause as hormone balance begins to shift between the mid-30’s to late 40’s. Symptoms are directly influenced by stress levels, nutritional status, environmental toxins, and overall health. Since no two women’s experience will be the same, those with hormonal imbalances need customized treatment plans and proper hormone testing.
For most women, menopause, and/or peri-menopause, brings both a physical and emotional up-heaval linked to transitional changes. Many women will also suffer from symptoms of hypothyroidism which has been tagged the ‘unsuspected illness’ because blood test results can sometimes be normal, and accurate diagnosis often missed as a result.
A missed diagnosis may occur due to our medical system’s reliance on testing of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). To make a proper diagnosis, a full panel of thyroid blood tests (TSH, T4 & T3) are actually required. (TSH is an indirect measure of thyroid function and does not correlate well with symptoms.) Symptoms associated with hypothyroidism may include: low energy, hair loss, fatigue, depression, weight gain, cold hands and feet, slowness of thought, puffiness or facial swelling, fluid retention, dry skin, brittle nails, constipation, and irregular cycles.
Not all symptoms of hypothyroidism are physical – thyroid imbalance can also effect a woman’s emotional wellbeing with symptoms such as lethargy, depression, and a general lack of ambition.
A balanced approach to treating menopause and peri-menopause starts with a hormonal analysis which provides a baseline of all hormone levels including estradiol, progesterone, test-osterone, DHEA, and morning cortisol. The thyroid is tested via a full thyroid blood panel. Additional testing of iodine levels is also key. (Iodine deficiency damages the thyroid gland and can cause goiter.) A Urine Iodine-Bromine kit can be used to test for optimal iodine uptake by the thyroid.
Testing is a fundamental step in determining the extent of thyroid imbalance and other hormones associated with peri-menopause and menopause. Once test results are received, a customized treatment plan is developed. For many wom-en, their treatment of choice is bio-identical hormone therapy; BHRT comes as prescription creams or capsules which use natural powders identical in structure to our own endogenous hormones.
For other women, their treatment of choice may be a combination of both bio-identical and detoxification/natural supplements, depending on their baseline hormone levels. Detoxifi-cation alone may enhance the body’s ability to effectively manage and resolve the symptoms of hormone imbalance, including hypothyroidism.
In addition, hypothyroidism may be treated using a natural thyroid extract, such as Dessicated Thyroid hormone, to restore proper hormonal balance. Dosages should start low and gradually increase as needed, based on re-testing and monitoring of symptoms.
At Avita Integrative Health Clinic, clients are consistently monitored for symptoms of thyroid imbalance, especially if physical and emotional symptoms and saliva testing all show signs of inadequate thyroid hormone levels. Our focus is on sustaining and reinforcing the body in its own regeneration of good hormonal health.
Editor’s note: Kelly Nolan obtained her Bachelor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC in 1987. Since obtaining her degree, she has successfully integrated functional medicine into her pharmaceutical practice of customized compounding.
Clinic address: 5A Conestoga Drive, Suite 300, Brampton, Ontario