How can Iodine Deficiency Cause Heavy or Irregular Periods?

How can Iodine Deficiency Cause Heavy or Irregular Periods?

Iodine is an essential nutrient for a functioning thyroid, we know how important this gland is for the regulation of many internal processes like metabolism, energy levels, brain development, muscle control and skin health. Research, however, is also emerging on the significance of iodine and thyroid health and its effects on the menstrual cycle.

From heavy periods, to irregularities in your cycle, how can the essential nutrient iodine play an important role during menstruation?

Irregular Periods

About 1 in 5 women of between the age of 19-54 experience irregular menstruation cycles [1]. A normal menstrual cycle ranges from 21-35 days however, an irregular cycle can indicate anything from longer or shorter cycles to heavier or lighter cycles. Irregular menstruation can also be accompanied by issues like abdominal cramps [2]. A common effect of iodine deficiency leads to irregular menstruation cycles.

The menstrual cycle is a complex process that involves the coordinated interaction of various hormones in the body, including oestrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones work together to prepare the uterus for pregnancy and regulate the shedding of the uterine lining during menstruation. Both hypo- and hyperthyroidism affect these hormones in various ways [3].  In hypothyroidism, levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are increased, and levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and oestrogen are decreased. These hormonal changes can result in menstrual irregularities mentioned before such as heavy bleeding, painful periods, or missed periods.  Conversely, hyperthyroidism can lead to an overproduction of thyroid hormone, which can also disrupt the hormonal balance of the menstrual cycle. This causes decreased levels of FSH and LH, and increased levels of oestrogen. This can once again cause irregular cycles as shorter or lighter periods, or a complete cessation of periods altogether [3].

Does Iodine deficiency cause PCOS and Endometriosis?

Iodine deficiency also shows to affect the development of Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is the most common cause of infertility in women, affecting up 20% of women of reproductive age.[4] Although the exact cause is not truly known and believed to be a mix of hormonal, lifestyle, and genetic factors, insufficient iodine levels in the thyroid gland can lead to a corresponding deficiency in the ovaries. Therefore, maintaining adequate iodine levels is crucial for promoting ovarian health. It is important to know, PCOS has links to increased risk of health problems like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure [4].

Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing irregular menstruation and a range of symptoms like inflammation, scarring, and pain. Again, like many other health issues stated, this is the result of, among other factors, a hormonal imbalance due to an iodine deficient thyroid. The thyroid is critical for maintaining this balance- hormones are essentially the messengers our body systems need to communicate; telling us how to make energy from food, how fast our heart need to beat all the way to how cool down or warm up. Without these messengers, we probably wouldn’t last a day!

How to consume iodine?

As our body doesn't produce iodine, it is important we are consuming enough in our diet or supplements to achieve our RDA. Food sources include white fish, seafood and dairy, yet 1.4 billion people globally remain deficient in this essential nutrient. This, paired with the rise in plant-based diets, means many of us are not getting enough iodine on a daily basis. To ensure you are getting your daily intake of iodine from natural and plant-based sources, Doctor Seaweed's supplements contain a rich source this nutrient from organic seaweed. Just one capsule equates to the same iodine content as a portion of fish making it easy and affordable to ensure you are consuming enough of this important mineral.

Depending on your wider wellness goals, this is paired with additional plant-based nutrients to ensure you look and feel wonderful. If you are experiencing issues during your cycle, it may be down to lack of iodine in your diet. To find out if you are deficient, click here to take our brief quiz and to find out which product is best for you. For more information on Doctor Seaweed and the range, click here to find out more!

[1] Kwak Y, Kim Y, Baek KA. Prevalence of irregular menstruation according to socioeconomic status: A population-based nationwide cross-sectional study. PLoS One. 2019 Mar 19;14(3):e0214071. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214071. PMID: 30889222; PMCID: PMC6424400.
[2] Whitaker L, Critchley HOD. Abnormal uterine bleeding. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 2016;34:54-65.
[3] Koutras DA. Disturbances of Menstruation in Thyroid Disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1997;816(1 Adolescent Gy):280–4.
[4] Deswal R, Narwal V, Dang A, Pundir CS. The Prevalence of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Brief Systematic Review. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2020 Oct-Dec;13(4):261-271. doi: 10.4103/jhrs.JHRS_95_18. Epub 2020 Dec 28. PMID: 33627974; PMCID: PMC7879843.
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