Inside: The connection between Thyroid and PCOS. How PCOS is leading to Hashimoto’s disease? Do Thyroid and PCOS have the same Root cause? And Supplements for PCOS and Thyroid.
Thyroid disorder and PCOS are the most common endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age at this point in time. Unfortunately, the incidence of both is increasing rapidly.
Both of these disorders come with dreadful symptoms and affect the health of women to such an extent that it becomes difficult for them to recover from it.
For a long time, there was some concern that there might be a connection between Hashimoto’s disease and PCOS. Finally, research has caught up with this concern and now studies prove that there is a connection between these two diseases.
New research findings suggest that females who have PCOS have higher chances of thyroid antibodies . These thyroid antibodies are the ones that destroy the thyroid and ultimately lead to hypothyroidism.
There is also a connection of hypothyroidism with PCOS. Where thyroid Hormonal dysfunction ultimately causes ovaries to become cystic and causes infertility.
So at this point of time what we understand is that both of these disorders can affect each other. And one more interesting fact is that the underlying risk factors for both of these disorders are the same.
What’s the Connection Between Thyroid and PCOS
Let’s first understand different thyroid hormones playing a role in hypothyroidism. So when people are diagnosed with hypothyroidism their TSH and TRH levels are high, and their T3 and T4 levels are low.
TRH hormone is secreted by the hypothalamus. When TRH levels go high, this leads to increased release of another hormone called prolactin.
Prolactin leads to inhibition of ovulation from the ovaries. It causes this effect by changing the ratio of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone and increased dehydroepiandrosterone from the adrenal gland.
This anovulation causes the ovaries to become cystic and thus it leads to PCOS like picture.
So through this modulation thyroid hormone dysfunction leads to polycystic ovaries, and sometimes it becomes difficult to know whether the PCOS is due to thyroid dysfunction or from other reasons.
It is so often seen that females who have PCOS are actually suffering from a thyroid disorder. And this thyroid disorder is causing PCOS like picture.
PCOS leading to Hashimoto’s Disease
There is also an increasing association of PCOS leading to Hashimoto’s disease. It was seen in research studies that there is a 3 fold increase in Hashimoto’s disease in females with PCOS .
It was also seen in another study that females with PCOS had more chances of goiter and hypothyroidism. The connection here feels to be related to autoimmunity.
The hormonal dysfunction is PCOS causes a trigger of inflammation in our body. This inflammatory reaction causes to form antibodies towards the thyroid gland and thus causes Hashimoto’s disease.
Does Thyroid and PCOS have the Same Root Cause?
It was seen that were some similar characteristics that were present in females who suffer from PCOS and thyroid. And these similar risk factors link these two conditions more closely.
By understanding these risk factors we understand the underlying mechanism which helps us to develop a treatment plan focusing on them.
The following are the risk factors which are similar to PCOS and thyroid disorders:
- Increased BMI. In both categories of disorders, it is often seen that patients are either overweight or obese. Or they have increase waist to hip ratio.
- Insulin Resistance. Both conditions have a very high prevalence of insulin resistance. In this situation, there is a high level of insulin in your body. This is because your body is getting resistant to insulin so it needs more and more insulin to work.
- Inflammation: PCOS and Hashimoto’s disease have high inflammatory markers present. This is a manifestation of high insulin levels present in these conditions. Insulin in normal levels is life-saving but in high levels, it is proinflammatory and causes inflammation.
- Increase in LDL and triglycerides. These are both kinds of ” bad cholesterol ” in your body. And their high levels have been associated with inflammation and also cardiac diseases.
All of the above markers can be easily checked through simple lab tests. So if you do suffer from any of these two disorders then you should ask your provider to check for the above.
What we infer from these risk factors is that both thyroid disorder and PCOS have a very strong correlation to lifestyle factors. These lifestyle factors combined with genetic factors play an important role in causing these two disorders.
Several lifestyle factors impact the development of these disorders, and thus if we take care of these lifestyle factors there is a high chance we can reverse these disorders.
How to Cure PCOS and Thyroid Naturally?
So in Both PCOS and thyroid, we need to develop a program that addresses all the underlying risk factors that we talked about above.
Unfortunately, conventional medicine doesn’t have much to offer in this regard and the medicines which are prescribed don’t work a lot of times or come with a host of side effects.
The following things if done together can help with PCOS and thyroid disorder naturally. .
1. PCOS and Thyroid Diet: As the main underlying problem with both PCOS and thyroid is insulin resistance and increased BMI, we need to support a diet that addresses these issues.
What this means is a diet which is low carb, and high in good fat and clean protein.
So we need to eliminate food which is high in carbs like sugar, simple carbs, gluten, processed food, fast food, coke products. And we need to add foods which are low in carbs like some whole grains, vegetables except for potatoes.
Limiting fruits to only 1 serving a day and staying away from bananas, mangoes, pineapples as they are high in sugars. Introduce good fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil. Clean protein also in your diet.
By following this diet we reduce inflammation and also improve insulin sensitivity.
2. Intermittent Fasting: Intermittent fasting is gaining popularity in recent times. It has so many beneficial properties, especially it can help tremendously with insulin resistance.
So incorporate intermittent fasting in your daily schedule and it will help you to improve that insulin resistance. I recommend doing the 16:8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and then eat for the rest of the 8 hours. But in those 8 hours, you follow the above diet.
3. Exercise: We all know exercise is healthy, but what we don’t know is that exercise is a wonderful way to reduce inflammation and also to improve insulin resistance.
So exercise hits all underlying risk factors of reducing insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, reducing BMI that cause PCOS and Thyroid disorder. I like to incorporate a mix of cardio and resistance training for an exercise routine.
Supplements for PCOS and Hypothyroidism
1. Inositol: Inositol is the best supplement you can take for PCOS and thyroid conditions. There have seen several studies that have shown improvement in both these conditions.
Especially females who are battling infertility issues should include this in their plan. Inositol in studies has shown to improves the egg quality and reduced the ovarian cyst size thus helping infertility .
A research study compared inositol to metformin treatment and it was shown that females using inositol achieved a successful pregnancy rate of 30% as compared to 18% with metformin .
Inositol works in multiple ways like it improves insulin resistance, it lowers androgen levels, it improves ovarian function and also improves adrenal gland functioning. So by various underlying mechanisms, inositol helps with PCOS and thyroid. And must include supplements.
The most common dose for inositol is 4 gram daily.
2. Berberine: Berberine is a natural supplement used in multiple conditions of gut dysfunction and also for insulin resistance.
In PCOS and thyroid, it helps mainly with lowering insulin resistance, but it also reduces inflammation in the gut which in turn helps with PCOS and thyroid functioning.
Typical Berberine dosage is 500 mg three times a day.
3. Curcumin: Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, an ancient Ayurvedic medicine used for various disorders including PCOS. Curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory effects, and through this route, it helps people with PCOS And thyroid disorder.
There have been some studies that have shown that curcumin reduced levels of IL6 and TNF alpha, and CRP levels which are generally high in PCOS.
Curcumin also in one of the animal studies showed similar effects as clomiphene citrate which is one the medicine used for PCOS.
The typical dosage for curcumin is around 2 – 3 gram daily in the cases of PCOS.
4. Ashwagandha: Another ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries for various medical disorders including PCOS. In PCOS it can be helpful by regulating HPA axis which is often an issue in females with PCOS.
It also reduces cortisol levels in our body which indirectly helps with insulin resistance, and it also helps with reducing inflammation in our body.
People start with 500 mg daily dosage and can increase to 500 twice daily.
5. Fish oil: Omega 3 fatty acids are potent ways to reduce inflammation in our bodies. And as the hallmark of PCOS and Thyroid disorder is inflammation, fish oil can be very helpful.
Also, PCOS has underlying cholesterol abnormalities which a good fish oil supplement can help to improve also.
Make sure you are taking 2000-3000 grams of Omega 3 daily combination of EPA and DHA.
With the above plan listed, we can tackle all the underlying issues of PCOS, by improving insulin resistance, improving BMI, reducing inflammation, Improving cholesterol abnormalities, and also improving ovarian function.
For most of the females, the above plan works and can help them to deal with these two dreadful disorders in a quick fashion and can improve fertility.
1.Singla R, Gupta Y, Khemani M, Aggarwal S. Thyroid disorders and polycystic ovary syndrome: An emerging relationship. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2015;19(1):25‐29. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.146860
2. Janssen OE, et al. High prevalence of autoimmune thyroiditis in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome,2004
4. Papaleo E, Unfer V, Baillargeon JP, Fusi F, Occhi F, De Santis L. Myo-inositol may improve oocyte quality in intracytoplasmic sperm injection cycles. A prospective, controlled, randomized trial. Fertil Steril. 2009;91(5):1750‐1754. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.01.088
5. Raffone E, Rizzo P, Benedetto V. Insulin sensitiser agents alone and in co-treatment with r-FSH for ovulation induction in PCOS women. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2010;26(4):275‐280. doi:10.3109/09513590903366996
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