Eye-opening news from Mary Shomon in her new book, The Menopause Thyroid Solution.
Evidently, thyroid problems can mimic menopause – and peri-menopause symptoms – quite cleverly. (Oh boy!)
In other words, if you are experiencing any of the following “challenges”, it may be menopause – or maybe not. Take a look at this list of menopause “mimics” that might be thyroid:
- menstrual irregularities
- sleep problems
- weight changes
- mood changes
- loss of sex drive
- hair loss
- skin changes
- elevated cholesterol
- bone loss
- fatigue and lack of energy
- digestive disturbances
- concentration or memory problems
According to Shomon, this is just a starter list! In other words, if you have been to doc for sleep disturbance, mood swings and “brain fog”, you may have been told “menopause!”….though the finger may really need to be pointed at thyroid problems.
Diagnosing thyroid is no easy task
As an opener, Shomon asked the crowd, “Who has been told my their doctor that ‘Your thyroid is normal’?” A majority of the women raised their hand. And this is not an uncommon experience.
If you have felt foiled by all the confusing – and sometimes conflicting – information out there about thyroid problems, Shomon’s new book will shine light into previously dark corners for you.
She presents several tools for self-analysis to help you draw closer to your own conclusions and put you in a more informed position from which to ask your own doc some questions.
To diagnose hypothyroidism, in addition to the symptoms, and clinical examination, conventional doctors consider the TSH results. A TSH level above the reference range is considered hypothyroid and will be flagged as high on test results. Remember, however, that there is controversy over the reference range, with some groups recommending the new range of 0.3 to 3.0, and many labs and doctors still use the old range of 0.5 to around 5.5. (pg. 96, The Menopause Thyroid Solution).
For this reason, Shomon recommends multiple measures when trying to draw a more precise bead on the condition of your thyroid.
In addition to the rich profile of symptoms as described in her book, you should also ask doc for the following:
- Free T4 (free thyrosine)
- Free T3 (free triiodothyronine)
A low level of either or both of these, along with an elevated TSH, may indicate hypothyroidism.
Chapter 8: Mindful Movement with T-Tapp
Of significant note is the exercise chapter (pgs. 228 – 268) featuring Mary’s favorite workout, T-Tapp. Teresa Tapp created a custom pictorial and instructional for Shomon’s book that spans nearly 30 pages: “Mindful Movement for Menopause Management”. Yay Mary for “getting” that movement – purposeful and targeted – is essential for all things well-being.
I’m only half-way through this book – (thanks Mary for fueling my cross-continental flight read last Monday ), yet it’s already sticky -noted and all marked up for sharing content and inside pointers with clients, friends, and my Woman’s Fitness BluePrint Mastermind Group. And those attending my upcoming Muscles, Mud and Merlot Fitness Retreat in Napa Valley, California can count on a report from me on content.
Oh, and the butterfly? As a butterfly-shaped gland, the thyroid gets its own lovely iconic symbol.
© Lani Muelrath 2009 image: creativity+
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Excellent article Lani-
As someone who lived through the nightmare of undiagnosed hypothyroidism for three years before being properly diagnosed, I can more than relate. So glad that Mary’s book is out there for the women of today!
The only thing that saved me was a fabulous and caring Endocrinologist who decided to provide me with a TRH test instead of the standard TSH. It picked up my problem IMMEDIATELY and I was on proper medication that very day, with no looking back.
TSH tests are notorious for missing cases of Hypothyroidism-especially in 30+ aged women and because of that fact, many women are dragging themselves through life when they don’t need to be.
Thank you to you and Mary for spreading the word!
Your Friend and Fan,
I really appreciate you stepping forward to share your story. 3 years? Geewillikers.
You would no doubt have loved Mary’s presentation. Thumb through her book when you get a chance, it is very user friendly.
Thanks so much for posting your comments!
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at 22. For 20 years I was treated by doctors who tested ONLY my TSH levels and prescribed ONLY synthetic thyroid hormone replacement (AKA Synthroid and Levoxyl). By the time I was 38 I had tons of perimenopausal symptoms in addition to debilitating exhaustion (15 minutes outdoors playing with my then 3-year old would mean 3 days of recuperation).
I went to my endocrinologist, repeatedly, with my symptoms and the only answer I got was that I needed to exercise more and eat less and that my “thyroid levels are within normal range”. I went to my general practitioner. They had no answer. I went to my gynecologist. He just about laughed at me for even considering the possibility that I might be experiencing perimenopausal symptoms at age 38.
It took me 4 years of searching and reading to find out that (1) testing TSH is NOT the best way to determine whether or not a person is “within range” and (2) there IS another option other than synthetic hormones – natural desiccated thyroid (brand names: Armour, Naturethoid, Westhroid, etc.).
Six years later, I’m still ironing out some of my symptoms. But, I’m here to tell you that after only 3 days of being on Armour thyroid and having the proper tests done, I was already starting to feel better. Since then, my Armour dosage has been increased to the equivalent of 3x’s the dosage I was taking of synthetic thyroid. And many of my symptoms have been alleviated by being on it. I changed doctors and no longer see an endocrinologist because I believe that they’re actually NOT best suited to treat thyroid issues because of what they’re taught in medical school. Sorry endos! It’s not your fault!
For my full story, read here (it’s just a Google document – NO viruses or anything. I promise!) https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AbJzS4GafG73ZGhzdnNxZmRfODljcHg0bXZnaA&hl=en
@Janet Wilson: My goodness Janet, what a journey.
Thank you for sharing the details of your story – you can be certain that this has helped more than one other person today.
Interesting to find your post. I have had little thyroid activity for 20 years, and took pills for it for one bottle only as that was all the insurance I had at the time. Have not taken anything for it since. And the last 6-7 years have seen menopause come on. After losing a job 3 years ago, lasting employment has been a dream (ageism) and mood related issues to that have set in. I can’t remember what it was like to have energy, much having my body know how to lose weight like it did for the last time 7 years ago. No resiliency to jump back. I’ve become used to this down situation. And since doctor;s lab tests are wrong anyway, why go to them? Seems like a remaining lifetime of only remembering what any energetic life was like. I can’t think of a more hellish nightmare than to be tied for the rest of life to pills.
Helen, thank you for stopping by. Sounds like a steep set of challenges. You may be interested to research some of the commentary by Dr. McDougall, M.D. One of the things I like about Doc McD is his commitment to meds as a last resort, yet the sense to utilize where medically necessary. I did a quick search of his deeply archived arcticles and found this reference to thyroid which may be of interest to you: http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2005nl/december/thyroid.htm
Forgot to say, my body shape now resembles the Venus of Willendorf (wikipediaor google it for a graphic) these 7 years with a weight gain of 60 pounds. Lose 3 gain back 4, etc. constantly…thyroid AND menopause…