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Thyroid Screening

Thyroid Screening

Many women report fatigue, increased weight gain, and depression between the ages of 35 and 50. In some cases, the cause of these symptoms may be related to an over or underactive thyroid.

What is a Thyroid?


Your thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of your neck. A healthy thyroid is about 2-inches long and has two lobes that wrap around the windpipe. These lobes are connected by a small strip of thyroid tissue called the isthmus.

The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in the overall health and function of a woman’s endocrine system. Its main function is to help the body regulate its metabolism, which is the process TSH of converting the food you eat into energy. This is done by producing, storing, and releasing two main hormones called Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). It’s important the thyroid releases just the right amount of these hormones into the bloodstream because an imbalance can lead to unwanted symptoms.

The pituitary gland, a small pea-sized gland located at the base of your brain, helps regulate and keep the two hormones in balance with a hormone called the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). For example, when T3 and T4 levels are too low, the pituitary gland releases more TSH to tell the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones. If T3 and T4 levels are too high, it will release less THS to the thyroid in order to slow down hormone production.

What is Thyroid Disease?

Thyroid disease is a term used to describe any irregularities or imbalance in thyroid function. Although men can experience thyroid dysfunction, it is about 10 times more common in women.  

If affected, a woman can experience problems with her menstrual cycle, getting pregnant, and/or problems during pregnancy that could impair the baby’s health.

Two main thyroid diseases are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

  • Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, allowing your body to use energy too quickly. This can cause a faster heartbeat, anxiety, mood swings, and an overall feeling of nervousness.
  • Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid produces too few thyroid hormones. This can make you feel tired and lead to weight gain and a sensitivity to cold temperatures.

Thyroiditis occurs when the thyroid is irritated, swollen, or inflamed. Hashimoto’s disease is an auto-immune condition where the immune system gets confused and attacks the thyroid gland and is one of the biggest causes of Thyroiditis. This condition often results in lowered T3 and T4 production and eventually leads to hypothyroidism. On the opposite side, Graves’ disease is an auto-immune condition that causes the thyroid to become overactive, resulting in hyperthyroidism. 

Determining if your irregular thyroid is a result of Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease will help you and your doctor better treat and manage your condition and overall health.

What is a Thyroid Screening Test?Thyroid Screening

A thyroid screening test is a blood test taken to measure the amount of TSH in relation to T3 and T4 hormones in the blood. Measuring the TSH level is the best way to initially test for proper thyroid function, as any changes in TSH can be an early warning sign of an abnormal thyroid. This is because changes in TSH levels will happen before the actual level of thyroid hormones (T3, T4) in the body become too high or too low. In most cases, a healthy TSH level indicates a properly functioning thyroid.

How Often Should Women Have A Thyroid Screening Test?

If a woman is experiencing symptoms of thyroid disease, has a family history of thyroid disease, or has already had a test result indicating a thyroid problem, more frequent testing will be required compared to a woman with no family history or symptoms.

Medical conditions like diabetes, age, medications, lifestyle, and if a woman is pregnant or postpartum should also be considered when determining the frequency of screening tests.

Here are some of the existing guidelines on thyroid screening:

So, what does that mean for you?

Your Moreland OB-GYN physician can act as your guide as to when and how often thyroid screenings should be included in your annual care plan. Schedule your appointment now. 


What Symptoms May Indicate the Need for A Thyroid Screening?

Symptoms of a thyroid disease are often similar to other medical conditions and stages of life, making it difficult to know if the issue is your thyroid or something else. 

Your doctor at Moreland OB-GYN will work with you to understand your symptoms and determine if a thyroid screening is the right course of care for you.

Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroid) can include:

  • Missed or light menstrual periods
  • Anxiety, nervousness, and hyperactivity
  • Web page ImagesHaving an enlarged thyroid gland
  • Hand tremors
  • Weight loss
  • Sensitivity to high temperatures

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) can include:  

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
  • Dry or coarse hair
  • Depression
  • Frequent, heavy periods
  • Sensitivity to cold temperatures
Learn more about your hormones and how they may affect your health now.

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How is Thyroid Disease Treated?

If your OB-GYN provider completed a thyroid screening and notices irregularities or evidence of thyroid disease, there are several treatment options. Treatment for an irregular thyroid will depend on the severity and underlying cause of your symptoms.

  • Your doctor may prescribe a daily dose of the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levo- T, Synthroid, others) if you are diagnosed with a hypothyroid. This oral medication restores proper hormone levels, reversing the signs and symptoms of a hypothyroid.
  • Anti-thyroid medications are often used to treat hyperthyroidism. The goal of these medications is to block or prevent the thyroid from producing the hormones.
  • Thyroid surgery may be suggested. If you have a nodule or goiter that is causing symptoms due to the production of excess thyroid hormones you may be referred to an Endocrinologist. 

If you’re concerned you have a thyroid disorder, please schedule an appointment with your Moreland OB-GYN doctor. Our team of caring providers will take the time to discuss your needs and walk you through the process of thyroid testing and care if a thyroid disease is detected.