Hyperthyroidism is common in females. Without early identification and treatment, the condition may lead to infertility, pregnancy complications, or early menopause, among other health issues.

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The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ on the neck. This gland secretes hormones responsible for many bodily functions, including growth and metabolism. The imbalance of these hormones could lead to various symptoms.

Having an overactive thyroid – hyperthyroidism – is common, especially among females. Approximately 1 out of every 100 people over age 12 in the United States have this condition.

Here are the signs and symptoms females with an overactive thyroid may experience, when they should contact a doctor, and what treatments may help.

Females are more likely to develop hyperthyroidism than males, particularly after pregnancy or around menopause. Experts say 1 in 8 females may experience a thyroid issue in life.

Other than the usual symptoms, females face additional concerns when their thyroid isn’t functioning properly, such as:

Language matters

In this article, we use the terms “male” and “female” to refer to someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes, not by their gender. A person’s gender identity may differ from the sex they were assigned at birth.

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Signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism begin slowly. They can also mimic those a person may have with menopause or other health conditions.

Before you notice other symptoms, you may experience weakness in your bones or broken bones. Hyperthyroidism increases the risk of osteoporosis – especially in females who have already reached menopause.

Additional symptoms include:

Physical signs include:

Consult a healthcare professional if you’re having signs or symptoms of hyperthyroidism. You may find it helpful to make a list of what you’re experiencing to discuss with a doctor.

Diagnosing hyperthyroidism is relatively easy and involves a physical exam, health history, and a blood test to assess thyroid function.

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of your hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease, for example). Your doctor can find the treatment that works best for you.


Antithyroid drugs (thionamides) can block your thyroid from producing excess hormones. The usual course of treatment for these medications is between 12 and 18 months long. Your symptoms may take some time to respond to this treatment.

Beta-blockers limit the effects thyroid hormones have on your body. These drugs may be taken to address symptoms, like slowing your heart rate, while other treatments take time to begin working.


Radioactive iodine (RAI) or radioiodine slowly kills off the cells that make thyroid hormones. This treatment is taken as a liquid or oral tablet and may lead to hypothyroidism.

If you develop underactive thyroid, a daily thyroid medication may help you reach typical hormone levels.


If you have a large goiter or are pregnant (and cannot take certain medications), your doctor may suggest surgery to remove a portion or most of the thyroid gland. Without this organ, you will likely develop hypothyroidism and need thyroid medication.

Your doctor may suggest antithyroid medications before surgery to avoid a thyroid storm. This serious condition can be triggered by anesthesia and worsen symptoms or become life threatening.

Home remedies

Some people choose to manage their symptoms with natural remedies. For example, your doctor may suggest a low iodine diet before starting medications or other treatments.

Other natural remedies for hyperthyroidism include supplements – but only under the supervision of your doctor. These remedies are more to help with symptoms and do not treat the thyroid issue.

Are certain females at higher risk of hyperthyroidism?

Yes, females with a history of thyroid issues, had thyroid surgery or radiotherapy may be at higher risk. Also, females with a goiter, anemia, or type 1 diabetes are at higher risk.

What does a goiter look like?

A goiter may look like swelling on the front of the neck. You may also feel a lump. Other symptoms include coughing, trouble swallowing or breathing, or tightness in your throat.

What issues can hyperthyroidism cause during pregnancy?

In females, hyperthyroidism may cause preeclampsia, thyroid storm, or miscarriage. In babies, hyperthyroidism may cause premature birth, rapid heart rate, or low birth weight.

An overactive thyroid may cause symptoms that mimic menopause and other health issues. Speak with your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms that concern you.

Thyroid issues can be diagnosed with a blood test. Identifying and treating hyperthyroidism promptly can help avoid serious complications like infertility, pregnancy difficulties, and early menopause.