Dr. David Clark, DC -Durham, NC-reveals the scary connection between PCOS and Hashimoto's--two conditions that cause infertility, fatigue, weight gain and depression.
Today I'm going to be sharing with you a scary study that shows how many women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) have a Hashimoto's Autoimmune Thyroidits (causes low thyroid).
Relased in 2011, this study makes some crucial points for women with PCOS to notice. And they didn’t even know they were making some of these points but I'm going to share them with you.
Over 12 months they took 78 women that were diagnosed with PCOS. If you don't know, PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is the most common endocrine (hormone) disorder that affects women.
PCOS typically causes infertility.
In tradtiional medical thinking, PCOS is thought of as mainly a "blood sugar problem" or a "hormone problem." But what a lot of people don't know is that...
PCOS is linked with autoimmunity and, specifically, Hashimoto's.
I see this connection in my practice every week. A woman will come in with a history of PCOS and a history of infertility but she's never been tested for Hashimoto's.
And, when the right tests are done--TPO antibodies and TGB antibodies--- she finds out she has Hashimoto's. But if she does the right things to manage the Hashimoto's and low thyroid function, she's able to get pregnant.
So, they took these 78 women diagnosed with PCOS and they compared them to a control group of 300 women. And they set the parameters.
- What would count as a positive TPO value?
- What would be "abnormal"?
- What would count as a positive TGB antibody?
TPO antibodies are what you test to see if you've got Hashimoto's. TPO stands for thyroid peroxidase; it’s inside your thyroid gland. TGB stands for thyroglobulin; it's inside your thyroid gland. The other antibody that you can test is called antithyroglobulin antibodies. If you've got elevated antibodies above a certain numerical cutoff, you've got Hashimoto's.
The study's cutoff was greater than 100. Higher than 100 would be "positive" for TGB and greater than 75 would be positive for TPO.
(They also physically examined all these women to see what was the rate of goiter. How many of these women have goiter?)
Here's the surprising results...
First scary finding...
Goiter was linked with having PCOS -- specifically, 24% of the 77 PCOS patients had a goiter that no doctor had found before.
Apparently, no doctor thought it possible that these PCOS patients might have a thyroid problem. For me, this fact in itself is troubling finding.
Second scary finding...
Seventy-two of the PCOS patients had their TPO antibody levels tested. And the mean level of TPO antibodies was 216. That’s two times the limit of 100. 2X the cut-off they established to say, "You've got Hashimoto's."
Thirty percent of PCOS patients had positive Hashimoto's antibodies. They met that criteria for Hashimoto's. 30% of those PCOS patients had Hashimoto's but no one knew it.
Why does this connection between PCOS and Hashimoto's matter?
Hashimoto's will complicate you being able to get pregnant. Hashimoto's is going to complicate you being able to maintain a pregnancy...
...Just like PCOS will make it difficulty to get pregnant. But---PCOS and Hashimoto's must be handled differently.
Third scary finding....
Of the control group, 27% of those women had positive TPO antibodies. The control group is supposed to be lthe "normal, healthy" people - but 27% of them had TPO antibodies above the cutoff!
This tells you that Hashimoto's is really, really, really common. (But totally overlooked.)
The authors didn't comment on this fact, but I thought it was critical for you to understand.
What about the thyroglobulin antibodies?
Fourth scary finding....
In the control group, 30%of the women in the control group had positive antibodies for thyroglobulin!
30% these "healthy" women had Hashimoto's.
In the PCOS, group 37% - and I'm rounding up - 37% of the women in the PCOS group had thyroglobulin antibodies.
Here's what we know:
PCOS is associated with Hashimoto's
and Hashimoto's is associated with PCOS.
So if you’ve got PCOS symptoms such as:
- weight gain
- low libido
Or if you've got Hashimoto's symptoms like these:
- weight gain
- low libido
...now you can understand the connection between the two.
What do you do about it?
Well, number one, you can’t really take this study to your doctor because if they read at all they would have already known about it. All they're probably going going to do is try to give you some medication--either Metformin® for PCOS or Synthroid®, Armour®, Cytomel® or Levothyroxine for the Hashimoto's...without really addressing the underlying problem.
You're going to have to find someone that knows how to look at Hashimoto's from a functional perspective, and not just get blinded by this label that you've been given that says PCOS.
The doctor needs to look beyond the label and do some detective work.
Now one last thing I want to point out...
The TSH levels (thyroid stimulating hormone) in the PCOS group-- including all these people that meet the criteria for Hashimoto's attack on the thyroid-- and the TSH levels in the "control" group were not different.
So what's that tell you about TSH?
TSH levels may not be very important....may not be very reliable when you’re trying to find out if someone has Hashimoto's.
If you've got PCOS, find someone who understands Hashimoto's. And if you've got Hashimoto's you need to find somebody who understands infertility and what to do about it from a functional perspective.
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© 2012 David Clark. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. David Clark, DC
Functional Neurologist (FACFN)
Diplomate College of Clinical Nutrition
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Vestibular Rehab Specialist (ACNB)
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