Has your energy been idling on low lately? Or your weight crept up and refused to budge no matter how much you hit the gym or cut carbs? You may blame it on midlife hormone changes, but did you know your thyroid gland could be the culprit? And because those signs of “thyropause” can masquerade as menopause, they often slip under the radar.

“Our research shows that almost 11% of women have thyroid issues without knowing it,” says Dr Sonia Davison, endocrinologist from Jean Hailes for Women’s Health. “This means they’re needlessly putting up with uncomfortable symptoms.”

Shaped like a butterfly, your thyroid gland is a small, soft organ that sits at the base of your throat. It works a little like a master switch on your metabolism, releasing hormones that affect your body temperature, energy levels and the speed at which you burn kilojoules. Thyroid hormones also affect your menstrual cycle, appetite, heart and nervous system.

According to the Australian Thyroid Foundation, 10 times more women are affected by thyroid problems than men. “Yet it only takes a simple blood test to diagnose thyroid issues,” Dr Davison says. “Once women get treatment – which often involves taking tablets to achieve the right balance of thyroid hormones – troublesome symptoms can be relieved or completely resolved.”

Just as a woman’s hormones can change during perimenopause and menopause, thyroid hormone function can also change at midlife. So make sure you keep an eye out for these classic thyroid symptoms that can mimic menopause:

© Prevention Australia