Peri-Menopause and Your Thyroid

Peri-Menopause and Your Thyroid

Peri-menopause. Oh how I hate it. It all started for me at age 43 with a major shift in my menstrual cycles and then came the symptoms including major hair loss and what physically appeared as rapid aging of my skin. It threw my thyroid health into a tailspin too and what was once my “sweet spot” for thyroid medication dosage that made me feel great was no longer effective. Finding my new “sweet spot” took a few years but thankfully today at age 47 I feel fantastic again. I know there is more to come as peri-menopause can last 5 to 10 years leading up to menopause, and I know things will shift but as they “knowledge is power”. I will take the bull by the horns with every fall and turn and ensure I come up feeling well again…and I hope the same for you.

Written by Bridgit Danner, LAc, FNDP

Are your hormones going sideways since you turned 40?

Peri-menopause – the 5-10 years leading up to menopause – is a common time to be diagnosed with a thyroid condition.

In this article, I’ d like to address these questions:

• Why then?

• Why more in women?

• What can be done?

Peri-menopause may begin in your late 30s or early or mid 40s. You may notice that your PMS is worse. You may have spotting between periods. Over time, your periods will likely get more dramatic, with missed periods and heavy periods. Other symptoms may be popping up too, like anxiety, brain fog and weight gain. You may be thinking, “These sound like thyroid symptoms,” and you could be right!

But before we explore the thyroid connection, let’ s cover what is normally happening during peri-menopause.

What is peri-menopause?

Peri-menopause is, in short, the opposite of puberty. In puberty your ovaries are waking up to start your reproductive years. Your brain and ovaries are learning to work together to coordinate a monthly cycle, and often the first few reproductive years are hormonally unstable. In peri-menopause, the brain-ovary relationship is starting to shut down. The ovaries are closing up shop, but the brain keeps knocking at the door, trying to get the shopkeeper working again.

The sex hormone that needs to rise sufficiently in the first half of the month is estrogen. It is produced by the ovaries as they also grow eggs. If you produce enough estrogen and release an egg, you’ ll ovulate. And if that egg is healthy and hearty, you’ ll produce a good amount ofprogesterone in the second half of your cycle. (The egg sac, or corpus luteum, makes progesterone after ovulation.)

How your thyroid could be impacted in peri-menopause

Even though both estrogen and progesterone are declining in peri-menopause, progesterone declines more dramatically in this stage. This leads to a condition called ‘ estrogen dominance’. Too much estrogen can prevent the thyroid hormone from getting to where it needs togo and can prevent it from converting to its active form. For some women, their thyroid symptoms are simply a result of this high estrogen interfering with thyroid hormone activity. We’ ll talk about how to address estrogen dominance shortly.

Another thing estrogen effects is the immune system, which is a major player in the number one cause of hypothyroidism, the thyroid autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Estrogen is associated with stimulating the TH2 branch of the immune system (1). TH2 is short for T Helper cell type 2, a lymphocyte (immune cell). TH2 ispart of the adaptive immune system, which mounts a specific attack against pathogens.+ Adaptive immunity is usually a good thing, but it can also lead to autoimmunity if the antigen activity is directed towards itself. As estrogen is the dominant sex hormone in women, this helps to explain why autoimmunity and thyroid disease is more common in women. As we age, we also experience decreased immunity, and a tendency towards TH2 response.

“In the aged, however, naive cells are less likely to become effectors. In those that do, there is a documented shift towards a Th2 cytokine response. The elderly have impaired ability to achieve immunization but much higher levels of circulating autoantibodies, (due to the lack of naive effectors) impaired response to viral infections, increased risk of bacterial infections, and increased risk of both neoplastic and autoimmune disease.” (3)

However, there is hope and action we can take to keep estrogen in check.

What do we do?

1. Improve Gut Health

If you’ ve studied the thyroid, you know that gut health is key to prevent an autoimmune response and to convert thyroid hormone effectively. Did you know it’ s also important to clear estrogen dominance? One way your gut helps clear estrogen is through the estrobolome, “the aggregate of enteric bacterial genes whose products are capable of metabolizing estrogens.” (4)

You can be friendly to your gut by avoiding:

• Genetically modified foods (GMO) – These kill off friendly bacteria

• Sugars – These feed troublesome bacteria

• Unnecessary antibiotic use – This kills everything, with bacterial imbalance often resulting in its wake

You can be friendly to your gut by including:

• Small amounts of fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi

• A wide variety of fibers from salad greens, fresh spices, berries, etc.

• A long period from an early dinner to breakfast lets your gut bacteria grow in peace

2. Boost Progesterone

Progesterone helps keep estrogen in check, so boost it by giving your body ingredients to make hormones.

• Hemp Oil – I’ ve been very impressed with how 1 Tbsp of hemp oil a day helps my own peri-menopausal hormones. I use this organic, cold-pressed hemp oil by Nutiva

• Borage Oil – This oil, usually in pill form like this one, has gamma linoleic acid essential for smooth and healthy skin and female hormonal balance.

• Maca – This adaptogenic root herb helps boost hormone production and can benefit your energy levels and sex drive. This organic maca powder by Viva Naturals is gelatinized for enhanced bioavailability. Consuming maca in its raw state has been associated with digestive discomfort but gelatinization makes the root easier to digest. There is controversy over the potential problem of ingesting high quantities of goitrogens in raw form for hypothyroidism patients. Given that maca is a goitrogen, applying heat to the maca in a gelatinized form is preferable to consuming it raw since heat is said to deactivate the negative effects.

3. Help Out Your Immune System

If aberrant immunity could be a problem in your case, add some components that can balance your system:

• Fish Oil – Fish oil has a balancing effect on the immune system and decreases inflammation. (5) Quality matters with fish oil, so do research to find a good brand. I prefer OmegAvail Ultrablank by Designs for Health.

• Vitamin D – Vitamin D deficiency is found at higher levels in people with autoimmune thyroid disease. (6) Talk to your doctor about getting your vitamin D tested and restoring it to a level around 60-80 NG/DL through sunshine or vitamin D3 supplementation such as Vitamin D Supreme by Designs for Health.blank

• If you are unsure whether Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the cause of your hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor about testing these two thyroid antibodies – Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies & Thyroglobulin Antibodies. You can also order these lab tests and more yourself online.

About Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP

I grew up the daughter of an army officer, and we moved every few years, so I was always having to fit in at a new school. My parents were loving, but there wasn’t a lot of open communication in our home. As I result, I got good at staying under the radar and being ‘a good girl.’ But my true self, and my sensitive side, were not getting an outlet, and sometimes I’d have to have an hour-long crying fit to let it all out. This sensitive, courageous girl inside me did get some release as I took up animal rights and environmental causes even at an early age.

With my love of nature and desire to serve, it’s not surprising that I went into natural medicine. I had an amazing experience in Chinese Medical School, and went on to a vibrant private acupuncture practice. I then opened a larger clinic with multiple rooms and employees. I did not anticipate the amount of stress and worry this responsibility would create. Meanwhile I was busy getting married, and then pregnant 3 months later. I worked my tail off in my new clinic throughout my pregnancy. After my beautiful son was born, I crashed. I was overwhelmed, anxious and fighting with my husband. Once again I was suffering in silence.

Over time, my hormones normalized, my mood was better, and I was able to really let my light shine. I came out of that dark place of postpartum depression with a fierce desire to serve other women. I am now the founder of

But, my story didn’t end there. In my late 30s, I started to show signs of female hormone imbalance again. While emotional stress was still a factor, age and a moldy house were now at play too. As women, we face different challenges as time passes. The challenges don’t end, but how we face them can improve tremendously.

READ NEXT: Cook Your Way to Thyroid Balance








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About Dana Trentini

Dana Trentini founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby she lost to hypothyroidism. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.


  1. Elizabeth says

    What a wonderful web site! In short, I believe I set-off either Hashimoto’s or Graves’ thyroiditis via inappropriate BHRT use. Too much progesterone followed by too much Bi-Est (topical creams). Ever since I’ve been chasing symptoms. The horrible anxiety/palpitations I was experiencing, I thought, as did my MD, was “simple” anxiety and she prescribed Xanax. It didn’t help that much and as I pored myself into researching hormones, voila, I discovered (keeping this simple) how estrogen “locks” thyroid and progesterone “unlocks” it. If not balanced, and using a large amount of progesterone to balance estrogen, you can trigger transient hyperthyroid. I only stumbled upon this possibility after losing weight quickly without dieting or exercising, having shoulder pain, and vision issues. On a hunch, I took lemon balm during an “anxiety attack” (which I had used for insomnia) and it helped. Lemon balm is a natural supplement recommended for hyperthyroid symptoms (vs. overt Graves which needs MD care). Hope this helps someone. Still on a journey to balance but slowly figuring it out. Lastly, white coating on tongue. Likely systemic Candida even though no vaginal yeast infections. MD never checked tongue. Believe this is playing a role too. Can anyone share if this sounds like you, and you made it through, what you did?

    • Thanks for sharing. You have uncovered a lot. I am in the early process of some of what you describe. Using bio pro gest (found on my own- now understanding a life time of depletion) but also feeling thyroid-ish (Tho test levels are exceptable) the last year and progressing. I am pooped already trying to unravel this mess. The support in this from the medical field is slim to none. I wish i had insight for you. Instead I am now hoping I am not creating a bigger mess myself. Looking into lemon balm.

    • Lemongrass essential oil helps to break through the candida film. I have had excellent results by rubbing some mixed with coconut oil on my abdomen and letting the oil get into my belly button. I also have been adding a couple of drops to my essential oil mixes when diffusing.

  2. I found this site very interesting. I am in need of help. I have Hashimotos and am struggling with regulating that and am also suffering terribly with peri/menopause symptoms. If you would read all the symptoms out loud for both I have them( except for hair loss). I have been to regular doctors as well as holistic docs and am not getting much relief. Any suggestions would be awesome. I live in Westland Michigan ( halfway between Detroit and Ann Arbor).

  3. Thank you for this info! I was cruising along feeling okay the last few years, and then in the last several months…ugh. Weight gain, sadness, aches, just OFF. I knew I was entering peri-menopause because my periods were getting further apart, and attributed it to hormones (or lack thereof). Finally went to my GP who confirmed with a blood test the decline of my hormones…and also tested my TSH, which was overdue for a check. I was utterly shocked when the nurse called today to up my thyroid meds, and when I casually asked my TSH the number she gave me was higher than where I started at my diagnosis! I was mystified. Thank you for this awesome explanation! I’m actually relieved I’m not crazy – because we all know how crazy this condition can make you feel…

    • Rachel reed says

      Wow it’s so nice to hear that your not the only one going through this …. it can be a very hard and lonely journey as I have no friends who suffer with their hormones as I do … and I feel like I’m the crazy friend …
      I’ve recently found out that I’m in perimenopause which was a shock as I have always suffered with estrogen dominance…the changes have been significant.. and I feel like I’m loosing my mind ..I’ve just had my thyroid meds up a little do so fingers x it helps …
      goodluck on your journey .. I’m so glad I found this to read today … perfect timing after a crazy few days x

  4. Alyson Galea says

    Hi there,

    I am interested in your dietary changes. I currently have several lumps on my thyroid which are non cancerous but causing pain and growing quite quickly. I have altered my diet to include vit D, kelp supplements, kombucha, more vegies and fresh fruit and nuts. Will try your other suggestions. thank you.

    • Rachel reed says

      Hi ,
      I found that doing the Auto immune paleo diet helped me a lot and it changed things heaps for me .
      I was a vegetarian and trying to be a vegan .. but I found I was bloated , water logged .. as soon as I started on auto immune paleo everything improved . I just lived on , organic grass fed meat , veggies and a whole lot of them , no nuts , grains , or seeds , fruit , eggs .i cut out all sugar , coffee , Alcohol . I did a 10 wk programme .. and I have to say at the end of it I felt the best I’d ever felt … it was amazing … I have a history of estrogen dominance, and hah my thyroid removed due to a benign tumour … my life has been full of ups and downs due to hormones.. .
      I hope this helps you in some way ..
      Goodluck on your journey x

  5. I found this article interesting and hope some of the recommendations will help. Can you recommend a site where I can find a naturalpath or functional medicine doctor to help me figure out what I need to feel better. Desperately seeking yogi 🙁

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