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Hypothyroidism? Maybe It's Why You're Gaining Weight

By Expert HERWriter
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 you may be gaining weight because you are hypothyroid Erwin Wodicka/PhotoSpin

Have you ever heard women in their thirties and forties talking about their metabolism slowing down because of their age?

This is a common conversation when women have unexplained weight gain.

One of the possibilities for this unexplained weight gain can be an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism.

If weight gain is accompanied by any of the follow symptoms it might be worth getting some lab work done to see if you are experiencing hypothyroidism:

- Feeling tired, fatigued or weak

- Not being able to tolerate cold

- Memory or concentration problems

- Constipation

- Heavy bleeding or long menstrual periods

- Pale or dry skin

- Thinning hair

Why do I bring up hypothyroidism as a potential explanation for weight gain? It has been an underdiagnosed condition in women. With proper diagnosis and treatment women can feel remarkably better in a few months.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is not producing enough of thyroid hormones, T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine).

It can also occur if the thyroid gland is producing enough of the thyroid hormone however the body is not able to convert enough of the thyroid hormone from the inactive form to the active form T3 (triiodothyronine).

In both cases there is not enough of the active thyroid hormone in the body for the tissues to use to conduct normal thyroid functions in the body.

The most frequent thyroid hormone deficiency is a disease known as Hashimoto’s disease. This is a type of hypothyroidism that is caused when the body's immune system attacks the thyroid gland tissue. This can prevent the body from being able to produce the thyroid hormones T4 and T3.

Hashimoto’s is actually an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the thyroid gland, preventing it from creating normal levels of T4 and T3. Over time the lower levels create symptoms in the body consistent with hypothyroid disease.

In many cases these antibodies can also attach other organs causing decreased function of other organs or create other autoimmune diseases as well.

The standard treatment for Hashimoto’s is to give natural or synthetic thyroid hormone.

Add a Comment2 Comments

I'm so happy you included an article on hypothyroidism. I started a blog called Hypothyroid Mom because I miscarried my baby in 2009 from my doctor's lack of awareness about hypothyroidism. You bring up the extremely important point that not all of us convert T4 hormone to the active T3 hormone our bodies need. By relying on one test TSH, doctors miss many of us who have low Free T3 levels. By relying on T4 only Levothyroxine drugs, hypothyroid patients who can't convert the T4 in Levothyroxine drugs to the active T3 our bodies need so they continue to suffer symptoms despite their treatment. I am happy you brought up this very important issue for thyroid sufferers. Bravo!

April 20, 2013 - 7:33am
EmpowHER Guest

The year before being diagnosed with hypothyroidism I was gaining weight at a rapid pace and feeling exhausted and depressed. I had no idea my thyroid was to blame. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism following the birth of my first son in 2006 and experienced many of the symptoms you have listed. I trusted my doctors completely assuming they knew everything there was to know about this disease, especially when I became pregnant again in late 2008. How wrong I was! Under their care my TSH, the gold standard for measuring thyroid function, rose high above the safe range for pregnancy and I miscarried. I vowed to myself that I would research everything there was to know about hypothyroidism and warn other women. I fulfilled my vow and launched my blog Hypothyroidmom.com in memory of the baby I lost to hypothyroidism.

October 21, 2012 - 5:50am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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