How Common is an Overactive Thyroid in Women?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2018
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The statistics regarding overactive thyroid in women vary widely, but some numbers indicate that up to 11 million women in North America have the condition. It is one of the most common glandular conditions affecting women, and is especially common in women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth. It is more common in areas where people consume high levels of the substance iodine, which is routinely added to table salt and other food items.

Overactive thyroid in women, also known as a hyperactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism, is a medical condition where the thyroid gland produces too many of certain thyroid hormones. Symptoms can include rapid heart rate, fertility issues, and an unusually fast metabolism. Women are more likely to suffer from this condition than men, although it can affect both sexes. Serious health complications can occur, since too much of certain hormones can be toxic to the body.

Hormonal factors may play a role in overactive thyroid in women. Postpartum hyperthyroidism is the most common form, and it generally occurs right after a woman gives birth. Unlike most causes of thyroid disease, this version is usually not permanent and the symptoms subside within a few months. If a woman develops overactive thyroid during pregnancy, it is likely she will have this condition during future pregnancies as well.


Although overactive thyroid in women who have given birth recently is fairly common, hypothyroidism is much more common. Sometimes women who have an hyperthyroidism during or after pregnancy will go on to develop an underactive thyroid. This is sometimes due to thyroid “burnout.” During the overactive phase, the thyroid gland weakens and becomes sluggish. Sometimes, this is a permanent condition.

Medication is available for the treatment of overactive thyroid in both women and men. Sometimes, the thyroid gland has to be removed altogether and hormonal replacements are given to substitute the naturally-occurring chemicals normally produced by the thyroid. There is no cure for hyperthyroidism, but it is manageable for most patients. Since symptoms may be similar to those related to cancer of the thyroid, they should be investigated by a medical professional as soon as they become noticeable. Many patients have no symptoms.



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