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The Thyroid-PCOS Link: Understanding The Connection And Empowering Action

Updated: 3 days ago


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Do you have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and suspect a low thyroid connection? You're not alone. Many women with PCOS experience thyroid issues as well, as acknowledged by The British Thyroid Association. The good news is, with the right approach, you can manage both conditions and optimize your well-being. Discover the optimal diet for managing PCOS and thyroid issues, and explore how acupuncture can help alleviate their symptoms.



What is the Thyroid?


The thyroid is an endocrine gland that sits in the front of the neck, that is responsible for energy, metabolism, hormone regulation, body weight, and blood calcium levels.


Thyroid disorders can be diagnosed by testing the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood and result in either an overproduction (hyperthyroidism) or underproduction (hypothyroidism) of thyroid hormones.


People with hyperthyroidism often suffer from symptoms like:


  • Weight loss even tough they have increased appetite

  • Heart palpitations, higher blood pressure, excessive perspiration and nervousness

  • More frequent bowel movements, sometimes with diarrhea

  • Muscle weakness, trembling

  • Lighter or shorter menstrual periods


People with hypothyroidism often suffer from symptoms like:


  • Lethargy and depression

  • Reduced heart rate

  • Great sensitivity to cold

  • Tingling or numbness in the hands

  • Constipation, heavy menstrual periods, or dry skin and hair



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What is PCOS?


PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a hormonal imbalance affecting women during their reproductive years. Even though it is one of the most common hormonal disorders, besides endometriosis and fibroids, women often get diagnosed with PCOS when experiencing problems conceiving.


The main cause of PCOS is an excess of "male hormones," such as testosterone. This affects the female hormones balance, affective estrogen and progesterone levels. As a result, follicles don't mature enough and don't release eggs.


What are the main symptoms of PCOS?


  • The presence of many small cysts in the ovaries, thus the term "polycystic"

  • Irregular periods

  • Lack of Ovulation, which is critical if you are trying to conceive

  • Excess hair growth

  • Acne

  • Difficulty to lose weight


PCOS is a manageable condition. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to address symptoms. You can check whether you may have it with a hormonal blood test and an abdomen ultrasound.


How to treat PCOS


Different Treatment options are available depending on your individual needs and goals. Women suffering from PCOS are often prescribed the Contraceptive pill, which helps to regulate the cycle. In reality, the pill primarily addresses symptoms. but doesn't cure the condition.


In my very own experience (since I've been suffering from PCOS since I was a teenager), you need to look at the bigger picture and adopt a holistic approach to this condition.


Focusing on diet, exercise, and stress management is essential. It is also important to Reduce exposure to Xenoestrogens. These hormone-disrupting chemicals affect hormone harmony by mimicking oestrogens in the body.


Don't be afraid to explore alternative therapies alongside conventional medicine, such as fertility acupuncture.



What is the PCOS-Thyroid connection?


The British Thyroid Association, alongside recent studies, suggest the connection between thyroid issues and Pcos. This is especially true for women suffering from an underactive thyroid. Here's why:


  • Impact on ovulation: PCOS women often have very irregular periods. Low thyroid function can further disrupt ovulation and play a vital role in regulating ovulation.


  • Weight management: Pcos women often struggle to lose weight due to the increased insulin sensitivity and metabolism. Hypothyroidism also leads to weight gain, further complicating PCOS management. In fact, Thyroid hormones control our body's Metabolic Rate, which regulates our energy levels and body temperature. Have you ever heard of the Estrogen-Fat Connection? Fat tissue stores estrogen. When overweight, there's more estrogen stored in fat and circulating in the body, potentially worsening PCOS symptoms. Diet and exercise are essential to manage weight management and boost your metabolism naturally.


  • Energy levels: Both conditions can cause fatigue and sluggishness.


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The PCOS-Thyroid Connection: 4 Strategies for Managing Both Conditions 


1) PCOS-Thyroid Connection: Food as Fuel


Make sure to include Selenium and Iodine in your diet.


According to the British Thyroid Association, iodine and selenium are key nutrients. Because the thyroid mainly needs two minerals for proper functioning. Iodine is necessary to produce thyroid hormones, and Selenium is necessary to convert thyroid hormone (T4) into its active form (T3). T3 regulates many bodily functions, such as metabolism, heart rate, and temperature.


While iodine deficiency is a prevalent cause of preventable thyroid issues globally, it's crucial to remember that individual nutrient needs vary. The British Thyroid Association also warns about excessive intake of iodine or selenium. Because this can also be detrimental to your health.


Therefore, it's always wise to consult your healthcare provider to determine the right amount of these minerals for your individual situation.


Where can I find SELENIUM?


Selenium is found in food such as:

  • sunflower seeds

  • Brazil nuts

  • garlic

  • mushroom

  • onion


Where can I find IODINE? 


Iodine is found in food such as:

  • seafood

  • seaweed

  • shellfish  

  • kelp

  • eggs

  • iodised salt


Prioritize Whole Foods & Embrace Healthy Fats


Avocados, nuts, and seeds provide essential fats that support a healthy PCOS-thyroid connection and boost metabolism naturally.


Manage Blood sugar balance


Sugary and processed options can worsen inflammation and hormonal imbalances. For women with PCOS, managing blood sugar levels is crucial. When blood sugar spikes after meals, it can lead to a decrease in progesterone and an increase in adrenalin secretion, which further blocks the release of progesterone.


As a result, there is even more disruption to ovulation and menstrual cycles. Here's what you can do:


  • Don't skip meals & Eat at regular times

  • Limit Processed Foods

  • Focus on Complex Carbs which provide sustained energy and help regulate blood sugar.


Limit Goitrogens Intake


Goitrogens are naturally occurring substances found in a variety of plant-based foods. They interfere with your thyroid's ability to absorb iodine, resulting in your thyroid not being able to produce enough thyroid hormones to regulate your metabolism.


We can find Goitrogens in:  


  • Raw cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, etc.). The good news is that you can still have them. They are actually very good for you, as they have tons of health benefits, but make sure you either ferment, steam, or cook them. 


  • Soy: you can have some but be sure it's either fermented or cooked (such as tofu and edamame); ages (such as miso, tempeh, or Tamari sauce)


  • Have a smaller amount of spinach, strawberries, peanuts and peaches.



2) PCOS-Thyroid Connection: Reduce Hormone Disruptors


As seen above, try to reduce Xenoestrogens. These are man-made chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body, further increasing its levels and creating hormonal imbalance. They can be found in plastics, pesticides, and some personal care products.


Opt for BPA-free containers, choose organic produce when possible, and explore natural cleaning solutions.



3) PCOS-Thyroid Connection: Acupuncture


Why Acupuncture


While Western medicine relies mainly on drugs and surgery to restore thyroid hormone levels, Traditional Chinese medicine (the system on which acupuncture is based) has a more holistic approach.


TCM practitioners will try to restore optimal immune function as well as balance the production and release of thyroid hormones through acupuncture, lifestyle changes and special exercises.


Acupuncture for thyroid dysfunction is a specialised type of treatment that focuses on restoring hormonal balance, regulating energy levels, and helping to manage sleep, emotions, and menstrual problems.


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There are many powerful acupuncture points in the ear and around the body that may help with the goals listed above, especially restoring hormonal balance.


Acupuncture for thyroid conditions may differ every time you receive a treatment as acupuncturists select the points to needle depending on how you feel the day of your session and take all your symptoms into account.


We aim to balance the energy within the body and optimise your health.


What science say


The British Thyroid Association acknowledges acupuncture as a potential complementary therapy for thyroid issues. 


Although research is still limited, a few studies suggest it might help regulate menstrual cycles in PCOS and improve overall well-being in both PCOS and low thyroid function. 


Research has shown how acupuncture can affect brain chemistry by stimulating the production of endogenous opioids affecting the autonomic nervous system. So it can initiate the relaxation response, putting your body in healing mode.


Another 2018 study found that Acupuncture for thyroid conditions may be helpful to:


  • Increase levels of thyroid hormones in patients suffering from hypothyroidism

  • Lowering levels of thyroid hormones in people suffering from hyperthyroidism

  • Promote relaxation and Reduce sensitivity to pain and stress

  • Help to disperse swelling as it can improve muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing blood circulation in small blood vessels

  • Promote the release of vascular and immune modulatory factors, thus reducing inflammation


Book today your first appointment, and make thyroid problems a distant memory as you embrace a new life of vitality and balance while improving fertility.





We hope you enjoyed learning about the PCOS and thyroid connection, how to manage these conditions and hopefully overcome them.

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