The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

Hi,

I'm 16, and I have hyperthyroidism (Graves disease). I've had it for over a year. I just got back from the doctors today and they want me to get surgery or radioactive iodine (not sure what to pick). But if I get one of these will it stop my puberty? It scares me. I really don't want to stop my puberty if I'm not done yet. I just started shaving a few months ago and only like once a week. Should I say I want to wait?


Answer

Your thyroid produces hormones which are involved in your development. Hyperthyroidism means your thyroid is putting out too much hormones. There are medications that you can take to control it, but you have to be very dedicated in taking the medication as prescribed. The surgery or radiation is suggested when the medication does not appear to be working well.

But your development has already been impacted by your disease. Getting it under control will actually improve your condition. It definitely will not stop your development unless you don't follow your doctor's instructions. Whether you elect to have radiation or surgery, what generally happens is that you'll end up with hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormones) for a period of time. You'll still be taking medication, but hypothyroidism is easier to treat than hyperthyroidism. There is also a chance that as your body heals that you'll be able to decrease the medication.

Here is a very well written description of what you have and how it is treated: See page 3 of Hyperthyroidism. Points that you should take with you is that treatment of hyperthyroidism has been around for 50 years. The radiation sounds scary, but it actually is fairly straight forward. From what I have read radiation is less invasive, but if your thyroid is getting big, which can happen, then the surgery is the better option.

From everything I've read, there is no advantage to waiting for treatment. If you are taking the medication and it is not managing the disease, then having either the radiation or surgery will help your development.

OK. Thank you for your input.