Common Underactive Thyroid Symptoms in Women

November 12, 2012

Common Underactive Thyroid Symptoms in Women

Underactive thyroid is also called hypothyroidism or sluggish thyroid. People with hypothyroidism have thyroid glands that do not produce enough hormones to keep the body healthy and greatly slow down the body’s metabolism. Some women are born with an Underactive thyroid, others may take medication that winds up affecting the thyroid and pregnancy causes some women’s thyroids to become sluggish.

About 10% of all women will experience hypothyroidism. Underactive thyroid symptoms are slightly different in women than in men. Hypothyroidism greatly affects a woman’s reproductive system and can affect their babies. If underactive thyroid symptoms in women are not treated, women can experience goiter, infertility, heart problems and give birth to babies with defects.

Early Underactive Thyroid Symptoms in Women

Long before complications from hypothyroidism begin, symptoms of the early phases of the condition begin. Common early physical symptoms of underactive thyroid symptoms in women include:

  • Thin, brittle finger and toenails that easily rip or split

  • Chronic constipation

  • Thinning hair that easily breaks

  • Dryer skin than usual

  • Paler skin than usual

  • Slower reflexes than normal

  • Feeling very cold all of the time

  • Arthritis-like pain and stiffness in the joints

  • Muscle pains

  • Sudden weight gain not caused by the body retaining fluid

  • Irregular menstrual cycles

  • Periods with heavier flow than usual

  • Dropping blood pressure

Psychological and emotional early underactive thyroid symptoms in women include:

  • Always feeling tired

  • Loss of sex drive

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling more depressed and hopeless than usual

Since most women who develop a sluggish thyroid are middle-aged or just about to enter menopause, these symptoms may be dismissed as just a normal part of aging. But they are not.

Advanced Underactive Thyroid Symptoms in Women

If the early symptoms are ignored, this can lead to more advanced symptoms such as:

  • Patchy or partial baldness

  • Loss of eyebrows

  • Puffy, round face due to fluid retention

  • Hoarseness of the voice

  • Slurred speech not due to alcohol consumption

  • Memory problems

  • Significant loss of smell

  • Significant loss of taste

  • Becoming more confused than usual

  • Development of carpel tunnel syndrome in the wrists and hands

  • Slower heart beat.

Even at this stage, hypothyroidism can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes.

For Pregnant Women and New Mothers

Women who are pregnant or who recently gave birth can suffer from an underactive thyroid. If the woman is still pregnant, she may give birth to a baby with a birth defect. But treatment for pregnant women is possible. Symptoms include:

  • After giving birth, not being able to lose weight despite dieting and exercise

  • Feeling very tired all of the time

  • Depression

Whenever a woman has recently given birth and feels depressed, she should talk to her doctor about it. This might not be due to hypothyroidism but post partum depression, a potentially lethal but treatable mental condition.


The most serious form of hypothyroidism is called advanced hypothyroidism. Symptoms are the same for women and men. Anyone experiencing these symptoms need to go to a hospital immediately:

  • Problems breathing

  • Suddenly dropped blood pressure

  • Coma.


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