Thyroid conditions can be frustrating to discover. They masquerade as major depression, chronic fatigue, or even acid reflux, and produce any number of uncomfortable and confusing symptoms that may take months to notice and treat. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with a thyroid condition, it’s normal to feel scared, frustrated, or angry—it’s always difficult to make peace with the fact that our bodies sometimes don’t perform their normal functions as we need them to.
Thankfully, most thyroid conditions are relatively simple to treat once they’re identified correctly. Typically, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the centerpiece of this treatment.
Who Can Use Hormone Therapy for Thyroid Conditions?
Hormone therapy is often prescribed to individuals experiencing menopause or andropause. However, it’s also popular among those who struggle with thyroid imbalances caused by any number of conditions, including:
People With Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is an endocrine disorder that impacts individuals across age groups, although it is most common in women over the age of 60. Due to inadequate production of thyroid hormones, these individuals may experience weight gain, mood disturbances, and fatigue, among other wide-reaching physical symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy can help balance T3 and T4 thyroid hormone levels in the body and provide relief from these uncomfortable experiences.
People With Hyperthyroidism
While many people with hyperthyroidism can be successfully treated with antithyroid drugs, others will require radioactive iodine therapy or surgery. Both of these treatments may permanently disrupt thyroid function and can cause some patients to develop hypothyroidism. Hormone replacement therapy may therefore be necessary in order to ensure healthy thyroid levels.
People With Thyroid Nodules
As we age, our thyroid gland often produces excess cells in the form of nodules. These nodules usually don’t cause harm, as most are benign overgrowths of thyroid tissue. They rarely produce symptoms, but if they get large enough, they may cause a feeling of something in the way while swallowing—HRT may be able to prevent nodules from getting any bigger.
People With Thyroid Cancer
When thyroid growths are found to be cancerous, surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid is the primary solution for most individuals. While this may remove the cancer, such surgery can also reduce or eliminate the body’s ability to produce thyroid hormones. Hormone replacement therapy is often prescribed afterward to replenish hormones and help achieve a healthy balance. Hormone therapy is also known to reduce the amount of TSH in the body, which can prevent the growth of cancerous thyroid cells, thereby preventing certain cancers from spreading or coming back after surgery. As such, HRT is a preferred treatment for both maintaining healthy hormone levels and preventing relapse in thyroid cancer patients.
Understanding How Hormone Therapy Works
Hormone therapy can be transformative, helping you restore hormone balance to the body and enhancing your quality of life. It is also a relatively simple process:
Step 1: Thyroid Evaluation
In order to be considered for hormone replacement therapy, you’ll need to undergo medical testing. Your health practitioner may discover thyroid abnormalities through routine neck exams or through your own description of symptoms, but thorough testing of hormone levels is a crucial first step in diagnosing a thyroid issue. Often, no further tests are necessary to confirm diagnosis, but X-rays or CT scans, ultrasounds, or minor surgery are sometimes needed in order to fully understand what’s happening with your thyroid.
Step 2: Administering Medication
Once you’ve been identified as a candidate for hormone replacement therapy, treatment is typically straightforward. Most hormone-based medications for the thyroid are administered orally once per day and involve some combination of T3 and/or T4 thyroid hormones. Your health practitioner will select a dose that’s appropriate for you and closely monitor your hormone levels through regular blood work to make sure your thyroid levels are improving. For many patients, equilibrium can be reached within the first six weeks of treatment. From there, your practitioner will determine an appropriate maintenance dose that will keep your hormones in check in the coming months.
Step 3: Managing Side Effects
Thyroid hormones are usually well-tolerated. However, as with any other pharmaceutical, side effects, unwanted medication interactions, and other risks are possible. Some individuals experience rapid or irregular heartbeat due to the elevation in thyroid hormones, although this and most other side effects are usually minor and short term. Your health practitioner should work closely with you to monitor any side effects you experience and adjust your medication accordingly.
Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy
Today, there is a wide variety of thyroid medications available on the pharmaceutical market. But not all forms of thyroid medication will be right for treating each unique thyroid condition, and not all will be well-tolerated tolerated by patients. Commercial thyroid medication can be very effective, but some patients experience better relief of symptoms with porcine thyroid preparations. Thyroid hormone can also be compounded in a dosage customized for your needs.
If you’re interested in exploring treatment options foryour thyroid symptoms, it’s important that you consult with an expert medical practitioner with extensive training in hormone health. The best practitioners will work with you to manage your personal medication levels, as well as incorporate nutritional and lifestyle recommendations that will help you attain a fully holistic level of wellness.
BodyLogicMD can help you transform your health and heal from thyroid-related imbalances. The practitioners in our network are among the top medical professionals in the country and certified experts in hormone health who can help you set and achieve meaningful health goals. With a comprehensive treatment plan that’s fully customized to your needs, you’ll be able to take control of your health in a way that fits your lifestyle. Contact a local practitioner in the BodyLogicMD network today to get started on your journey toward holistic hormone health. To learn more, take the BodyLogicMD Hormone Balance Quiz to further understand your thyroid-related symptoms and the hormone therapy treatment options that are available to you.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.