Your Thyroid and Infertility
If you and your partner have been experiencing difficulties getting pregnant, you may already suspect that your thyroid and infertility problems are directly linked.
If your doctor has not yet talked to you about the relationship between the thyroid and your reproductive system, now is the time to ask.
Many women experience infertility problems for a variety of reasons, and it’s often difficult to pinpoint just one factor.
Understanding that your thyroid plays a huge role in your fertility function can save you a lot of time and money looking at other infertility causes.
Normal thyroid function is imperative when it comes to fertility, therefore screening and then proper treatment can significantly improve conception and lead to a healthy pregnancy.
Recognizing Thyroid and Infertility Issues
Many women are not even aware that they might be experiencing infertility problems that are thyroid related. If you and your partner are unable to get pregnant it’s time to get tested for thyroid issues.
There are two categories of thyroid problems: hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroid symptoms include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Inability to gain weight
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unexplained moodiness and irritability
- Feeling hot even on cold days
- Heartbeat irregularities; either a heartbeat that is too fast or one that is too slow
Hypothyroid symptoms include:
- Difficulty losing weight
- Unexplained weight gain
- Low energy
- Muscle and joint aches and pains
- Feeling cold even on warm days
If you’re experiencing any combination of the above symptoms and are also having problems conceiving, it might just be time to talk to your doctor and have your thyroid tested.
Even if you don’t have any of these symptoms, a thyroid test can help your doctor rule out thyroid issues as a potential cause for your infertility.
When it comes to fertility, the more answers you have, the more you’ll be able to make decisions that are best for your own personal health care.
Testing for Thyroid Related Infertility
The best way for your doctor to determine if thyroid problems are preventing you from getting pregnant is by measuring your TSH level, also known as thyroid stimulating hormone.
TSH is produced by the brain and stimulates the production of the thyroid gland which is located in your neck. If your thyroid does not produce enough TSH, you’ll be diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Your thyroid will then have to work harder in order to increase the TSH level. If your thyroid produces too much TSH, you’ll be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
Treatment for Thyroid Problems
Treatment for an under-active thyroid is generally by taking the synthetic hormone T4 as a supplement. The dosage of T4 will vary from one person to the next depending on blood test results.
After you start taking hormone replacement for your under-active thyroid it may take some time for your doctor to find the right dosage for you. Your dosage will most likely be reevaluated and adjusted over the next few months.
The goal is to make you feel better and increase your chances of being able to get pregnant. When you do become pregnant you’ll most likely continue taking the hormone supplement.
Hormone supplements are safe to use since they are exactly what your own body would be producing. Your doctor will be better able to advise you about hormone supplements after conception.
Connection Between the Thyroid and Infertility
Having an under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism) can cause your body to have irregular menstrual cycles as well as other menstrual problems that can factor into your infertility problems.
Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can prevent your body from ovulating. Ovulation, when the egg is released for fertilization, is necessary for you to get pregnant.
Without the releasing of the egg, you won’t be able to conceive, even if you’re having normal menstrual cycles. A normal menstrual cycle does not guarantee ovulation.
Hypothyroidism can also lead to the forming of cysts on your ovaries, yet another potential cause of infertility. As well, hypothyroidism can increase the production of a hormone known as prolactin.
This hormone controls lactation. When prolactin levels are too high your body can be deceived into thinking that you’re already pregnant and therefore ovulation can be suppressed.
Reducing the Risk of Infertility
Once you know that you have thyroid problems the first thing you need to do is seek treatment and get your thyroid under control.
After you’ve been diagnosed and treated for hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism you may be able to conceive naturally.
If you’re still having problems getting pregnant, your doctor can at least rule out thyroid problems as one of the causes of your infertility.
Of all the threats to your fertility, thyroid problems are the easiest to diagnose and then treat. Insist on thyroid testing even if your doctor doesn’t feel there is a need.
A simple blood test can make the difference between almost instantly correcting your infertility problems or spending years and a lot of money looking for other reasons why you’re just not getting pregnant.