Our thyroids produce hormones that are required to help metabolize nutrients used to regulate our energy levels, and for many other functions in our bodies.
This small gland, located in the base of our neck, uses iodine from the food we eat to produce two main hormones, triiodothyronine and thyroxine. Triiodothyronine is also called T3. Thyroxine is also known as T4.
These hormones must be kept in balance to regulate vital body functions such as heart rate, breathing rate, muscle strength, temperature and body weight.
Hypothyroidism occurs when not enough of these hormones are being secreted . Hyperthyroidism occurs when there is too much.
According to the American Thyroid Association, “women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems,” and they estimate that 20 million Americans have some type of thyroid disease, while only up to 60 percent are aware of it.
Women are more likely to develop thyroid problems for a number of reasons. Everydayhealth.com states that women of childbearing age are more likely to develop autoimmune diseases.
Both Graves’ disease, which causes hyperthyroidism, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which causes hypothyroidism, are autoimmune diseases.
In addition, women may develop thyroid disease during and after pregnancy, or if they have a genetic problem such as Turner syndrome.
Many symptoms of thyroid disease are similar in men and women.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Low energy and fatigue
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Dry and thinning hair
- Joint and muscle pain
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism include:
- Hair loss
- Hand tremor
Women may be more likely to complain of these symptoms and seek treatment while men may hold off, try to ignore them or think they are due to other reasons.Read more in Gender Differences in Health