Heavy Bleeding can be a symptom of Hypothyroidism
one day I read about the connection between
heavy menstrual bleeding and low thyroid,
and it was like a light bulb went on in my
head. For some reason all the puzzle pieces
Twenty years ago I nearly lost my uterus. I suffered for
many years with heavy menstrual flows and debilitating
fatigue, among other things, because the doctors in
my life ignored some pretty basic symptoms of hypothyroidism
(low thyroid condition).
In fact many doctors do not seem to recognize that heavy,
painful and/or irregular menstrual periods are commonly
caused by hypothyroidism. This is really shocking, when
you realize that the first paper on this subject was
published in 1899. This connection has also been printed
in gynecological textbooks. This was taught in med school!
I am sharing my story because many women today, otherwise
healthy, are still encouraged by doctors to get hysterectomies
as "a last resort" for heavy bleeding. While
dysfunctional bleeding could indeed indicate something
quite serious, the fact is its also a symptom for hypothyroidism.
This symptom is part of a larger picture that, when
seen with other specific signs, should alert the doctor
to at least consider the possibility of hypothyroidism,
and yet it is often disregarded. It certainly was in
Sometime around age 35, I began to occasionally experience
extremely heavy menstrual cycles with large blood clots
and painful cramps. There were headaches, too, and lots
of fatigue. I have heard these periods described as
PFH (Periods From Hell). There were times when I could
not leave the house during a PFH. More often than not,
I'd have to plan my life around my periods whenever
The PFHs continued on and off for several more years.
At first, my gynecologist prescribed Provera to stop
the bleeding. Provera worked great whenever I took it,
and I was thrilled. Of course, my doctor didn't alert
me that I'd be spotting the whole rest of any month
I took the pills, which was scary at first. But even
when I realized I'd be spotting for weeks, I didn't
care because anything was better than living with the
heavy bleeding, painful cramps, headaches, and fatigue
that accompanied each period.
Sometimes I would go through phases of no PFHs, so I'd
think they might be over for good, but just as suddenly,
they would be back. Eventually, it got to the point
I was asking for the Provera pills too often I guess,
because one day my frustrated gyn suggested hysterectomy
was my only alternative. I really respected this man
and came very close to agreeing to the procedure, but
something told me to get a second opinion. Fortunately,
that doctor was able to treat me without resorting to
Things were actually fine for a while. But at about age
42, my health once again began to change dramatically.
My periods became very irregular, and I also began to
experience hot flashes, increased fatigue and hair loss.
I thought it might be perimenopause, so I asked my gyn
if I could have something to relieve the hot flashes.
But he said no. He just didn't believe I could be perimenopausal.
"Too young," he said. This same doctorwho
I believed saved me from a hysterectomywas now
dismissing me. I felt crazy and was devastated by his
After switching GYNs once again, I was able to get some
relief with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However,
I was disappointed to find that I still didn't feel
well. Something was very wrong. The HRT did help the
hot flashes. It also regulated my periods. Yet I continued
to experience the hair loss, fatigue and headaches,
plus new symptoms were beginning to appeardizziness,
body aches, joint pain, brain fog, cold hands and feet,
difficulty swallowing, depression, loss of libido and
more. Whatever was going on, it was getting gradually
I decided to do some research, and in only a short time
I discovered that my symptoms clearly fit the pattern
for hypothyroidism. I read that many of the same symptoms
could fit perimenopause as well. That confused me until
I also read that perimenopause can provoke a long-standing
untreated thyroid condition to trigger even more symptoms.
So it seemed logical to wonder, could this be me? Could
I be hypothyroid? My gyn didn't think so.
Nor did any of the other 5 doctors I saw within the next
3 years. Not one of these doctors believed I had a thyroid
problem, despite the fact I complained of at least 12
low-thyroid symptoms, several of which were classic
hypothyroid symptoms and had nothing to do with perimenopause
(low body temperature and difficulty swallowing, to
name two). My "normal" blood tests defined
the situation to these doctors, and that was that. After
all that time and effort, I still had no diagnosis.
And I still felt lousy! So how could I be "normal?"
I couldn't understand why no one could help me.
Discouraged, I didn't seek any more medical help for years
after that. I just learned to live with the symptoms,
which wasn't easy. I had no more periods since, by that
time, I was well into menopause, but I still dealt with
the other symptoms. My hands and feet often felt so cold they "burned," and I had to wear socks
to bed even in summer months. The fatigue, especially,
often meant being homebound.
Then one day I read about the connection between heavy
menstrual bleeding and low thyroid, and it was like
a light bulb went on in my head. For some reason all
the puzzle pieces suddenly fit! This discovery was a
turning point which gave me the confidence to believe
that, in spite of what I'd been told by the doctors,
well of course this could be me. I could have hypothyroidism!
Which meant there might be relief from symptoms which
had gone unabated all these years.
With renewed conviction, I was able to find a wonderfully
supportive doctor who was experienced in thyroid care.
After all I'd been through, it was almost overwhelming
to meet a doctor who actually listened respectfully
to my story and who seemed to understand exactly what
was going on with me. He explained that "normal"
doesn't always mean healthy and that labs are not the
whole story. He explained how current blood tests miss
the hypothyroid diagnosis almost as often as they detect
it. I left his office with a prescription for Armour
thyroid and hope for the future. After being on the
medication just a short time, I began to notice positive
changes. Now, 3 years later, at age 55, I feel better
than I have in a very long time. I feel healthy!
For more information:
Excellent website covering all thyroid conditions and
Books which mention menstrual irregularities as a symptom
of low thyroid and other thyroid conditions:
- "Solved, The Riddle of Illness," by Stephen
- "Hypothyroidism, The Unsuspected Illness,"
by Broda Barnes, MD
- "Living Well With Hypothyroidism," by
- "Screaming to be Heard, Hormonal Connections
Women Suspectand Doctors Ignore" by
Elizabeth Lee Vliet, MD
All books are available at