The thyroid is that gland that straddles your lower neck like a butterfly. While small in size, its effect is quite large and powerful as it is somewhat responsible for a multitude of functions in the body.
In both men and women, classic low thyroid symptoms include fatigue, hair loss, constipation, dry skin and weight gain. However, there are other more subtle symptoms that people do not realize involve the thyroid.
When the thyroid does not function properly it seems to slow everything down causing fatigue, lethargy, lack of motivation, low body temperatures, and low serotonin production.
This combination can all result in a low or depressed mood. Hypothyroid can also increase the risk of postpartum depression.
2) Irregular menstrual cycles
As the thyroid has direct impact on the function of the ovaries, low thyroid can cause the menstrual cycle to skip months or cease all together. In addition, it can change the flow of a cycle, causing it to be really light or really heavy.
3) Fertility problems
Not only can a low thyroid create cycle problems, it can interfere with the ability to become and remain pregnant. Miscarriage, fetal death and developmental problems can occur if the thyroid is not monitored before and during pregnancy.
In men, hypothyroid can reduce testosterone production and alter sperm count, morphology and motility.
4) Digestive complaints
While constipation is a commonly advertised symptom, other gastrointestinal issues such as heartburn, nausea, vomiting, delayed gastric emptying, gas, bloating and gastritis can also occur.
5) Heart problems
Not many people realize the effects low thyroid has on the heart. It can cause high cholesterol, an enlarged heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) and even heart failure.
Remember that these symptoms can be the result of other issues as well and requires a full workup that includes the thyroid. Just like not all weight gain is a result of the thyroid, not all heartburn or high cholesterol is thyroid-related either.
Thyroid testing involves a blood draw of the hormones T4, T3, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and the thyroid antibodies: thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies and thyroglobulin antibodies.
If you feel that your thyroid may be out of balance, talk with your health care provider today.
1) Bauer, M., Heinz, A., and Whybrow, P. (2002). Thyroid Hormones, Serotonin, and mood: of synergy and significance in the adult brain. Retrieved from
2) Dillmann, W. (2010). Cardiac hypertrophy and thyroid hormone signaling.
3) Ebert, E. (2010). The thyroid and the gut. Retrieved from
4) Kumar, A., Shekhar, S., and Dhole, B. (2014). Thyroid and male reproduction.
5) Redmond, G. (2004). Thyroid disfunction and women’s reproduction. Retrieved from.
Reviewed January 14, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith