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Is poor thyroid function impacting your fertility

If you have been unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for more than 6 months, before you embark on invasive medical procedures and spend thousands of dollars for assisted reproductive technology, ensure that your thyroid is functioning at its optimum.

Many women don't realize that good thyroid function is necessary for fertility, the ability to conceive and to maintain a pregnancy.  An under (or over) functioning thyroid can prevent you from achieving that much desired pregnancy. While there are many and varied reasons for infertility, suboptimal thyroid function may be that "missing link" especially for those with no specific reproductive problems.

A full thyroid evaluation is essential, and should be done as soon as possible for any woman who wants to get pregnant, especially if she:

  • Has been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for more than 6 months
  • Has had two or more miscarriages
  • Has an irregular menstrual cycle
  • Has any family history of thyroid problems.

What Does the Thyroid Gland Do?

The thyroid gland is located near the front of the throat, just below the voice box & just above the collar bones. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of the body's metabolism, blood calcium levels, energy production, fat metabolism, oxygen utilization, balance of other hormones & weight maintenance.

Hormones involved with thyroid function include Thyroid Releasing Hormone (TRH) released from the hypothalamus in the brain, which stimulates the pituitary gland at the base of the brain to release Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which in turn stimulates the thyroid gland to produce Thyroxine (T4) & Triiodothyronine (T3).  Much of T4 is converted to T3 (the active form) in the liver.  Thyroid hormones are synthesized from iodine and the amino acid Tyrosine (from protein), and the conversion to the active form is reliant on the trace mineral Selenium.

Healthy Thyroid function can be affected by:

  • Exposure to environmental toxins – electromagnetic radiation, chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals e.g. mercury & fluoride
  • Genetic susceptibility
  • High levels of stress
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Infections
  • Other hormone imbalances e.g. oestrogen dominance, high prolactin levels

How Does Hypothyroidism (Low) affect fertility?

Anovulatory cycles – not releasing an egg / ovulating.  This makes pregnancy impossible.

Luteal Phase Problems –  With a short second half of the menstrual cycle a fertilized egg can't implant securely and ends up leaving the body at the same time that menstruation would occur (very early miscarriage) & is often mistaken as a regular period.

High Prolactin Levels – due to elevated levels of Thyroid Releasing Hormone (TRH) and low levels of Thyroxine (T4) resulting in irregular ovulation or no ovulation.

Other Hormonal Imbalances – reduced sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), oestrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, all of which interfere with proper reproductive hormone balance.

Your check list for thyroid assessment

1. Do you have any of the common signs & symptoms associated with low thyroid function?

  • Inability to conceive / infertility
  • Miscarriage
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Period pain
  • Low libido
  • Lethargy & fatigue
  • Susceptibility to the cold / cold hands & feet
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Changes in texture of skin, nails, hair, hair loss
  • Recurrent infections
  • Constipation

2.  Is your basal temperature consistently below 36.5° C? Take your oral temperature at rest first thing in the morning before moving out of bed for 7 -10 days in the first 14 days of your cycle. Your temperature should be between 36° and 37° C but ideally above 36.5°C.

3.  Blood Tests - For full thyroid assessment you require readings for TSH, T4, T3, rT3 & Thyroid Antibodies.  TRH may also be required. For optimum fertility, your TSH level should be between 1 and 2. Your doctor or naturopath can order these tests for you.

4.  Urinary Iodine - Iodine is a key component of thyroid hormone. Excessive iodine as well as a deficiency of iodine can result in low thyroid function. Your doctor or naturopath can order this test for you.

5.  Diet & Lifestyle - Our modern western diet is a major contributor to increasing thyroid health problems. Foods detrimental to thyroid health include refined grains, simple sugars, soy products, peanuts & peanut products, caffeine, hydrogenated oils, cigarette smoking and alcohol.  Excessive consumption of vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, turnips, Brussels sprouts have the ability to block the absorption of iodine.

Exposure to heavy metals e.g. mercury (amalgam fillings) and fluoride (water supply, toothpaste) may also be detrimental.

Stress management is imperative.  Stress results in elevated levels of cortisol, the main hormone released by the adrenal glands.  Increased cortisol will inhibit the conversion of T4 to the active T3 hormone.

Exercise is beneficial as it will stimulate thyroid hormone secretion and increases tissue sensitivity to thyroid hormones.

Treating thyroid function is not a magic cure for all fertility issues but I have found that for many women, once thyroid health has been improved, their fertility issues were resolved and they have gone on to have a healthy pregnancy and enjoyed the treasures of motherhood.

If you suspect that less than ideal thyroid health may be contributing to your fertility difficulties or just impinging on your health generally, take action now!

Want to know more?
Visit www.christinesullivan.com.au or www.healthycomparisons.com.au

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, then healthdirect can help to understand the condition better. For a trusted, clinically approved guide to causes and symptoms of thyroid issues go to healthdirect's website.

Christine Sullivan is a leading Australian Naturopath in the field of natural fertility, women’s health, hormonal health, preconception care, pregnancy, family, infant and child health.


36 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Apr 7, 2012 12:22am [ 1 ]

I have primary congenital Hypothyroidism (born without a Thyroid Gland completely) and have been feeling a bit under the weather lately. I am the heaviest I have ever been and my stress levels are through the roof as I have been searching for permanent full-time work for close to four years now. What diet would you recommend?

I currently weigh 85kilos at 178cm tall. I appreciate your feedback.

dr swetha
Feb 18, 2013 8:36pm [ 2 ]

hi,i am a docter and married for 4yrs,i have got al investigations done including hsg everything is normal,but i had done thyroid profile 2yrs back it was normal,but when i repeated again today my tsh is 8.3,t3 and t4 normal what do you suggest

May 10, 2013 2:49am [ 3 ]

We have been trying to get pregnant for 7 mos.I have had implantation bleeding for 4 of those months but cant retain the pregnancy.I was on levothyroxine for almost 2 years but stopped taking because we wernt able to sustain preg.I have 2 children 12 and 11 and was not on levothyroxine for either preg.I have been told i may only ovulate from 1 ovary.I read it affects fertility and sustaining a preg.I started taking it again but wonder if i am taking enough.Currently the dose is .05mg.Is that enough? SINCERLY DENISE

Jul 7, 2013 10:14pm [ 4 ]

Hi, am an Indian who lives in Singapore from 8 months after my wedding. I was diagnosed for Thyroid problem 3 years back. I had severe hair fall, weight again, and abnormal menstrual cycle (heavy flow fro nearing to days ). Blood test showed TSH levels of >6.5. Since then i am taking Thyrofit 25mg. Now i want to conceive. Should i increase my dose of tablets NOW ? OR Do i have increase dose once i become pregnant?

I plead you to suggest me.

Tammy Williams
Nov 30, 2013 12:21pm [ 5 ]

I have been trying for 10 years to get pregnant and needed help! Been going to the doctors but still nothing. the doctor said me and my husband are fine , I don't know where else to turn. until one day I read how fertilitysolutiontemple@live.com helped others get pregnant ONLINE i then contacted the great spell caster via email and Prophet BABA cast a pregnancy spell for me and gave me a 2months sure guarantee that i will become pregnant , and exactly 6weeks later I went to check and i was pregnant and later on i gave birth and i named my child "great" so that i can never forget the great spell caster that`s Prophet BABA who opened my blessings of conceiving today its marking 5years great was born and i also have a baby boy who is one and half years old, i want to use this medium to tell other women out there who is having pregnancy issues not to wait for years like i did contact fertility temple today and be happy this its contact call +2348052168467 or email: fertilitysolutiontemple@live.com ,Tammy Williams

Kriti Khare
Jan 12, 2014 6:49pm [ 6 ]

Hello ma'm ,

I am aparna 27 year old. I am worried as I have thyoidy and I m 4 week pregnant . My last tsh level is 8.3. last dose i was taking is 89 MCG. Pls suggest will this level affect my baby.

Apr 16, 2014 6:06pm [ 7 ]

How can we get pregnant with a high tsh level?

Apr 17, 2014 6:02am [ 8 ]

hello mam

i am bharati 31year old..i have hypo thyriod since 1 year . my tsh level is 211.11 i was taking tharonorm 100mcg. i want pergnant so pls suggest what can i do for pergnancy.

Apr 20, 2014 10:55am [ 9 ]

Hi, i also had a thyroid attack that is low t4 & my tsh goes to 19.91 right after six month of my marriage but my doc gives my 200mcg thyroxine to come back thyroid levels. I conceived twice & miscarried at 7 week. Its now 4 years of my marriage & didnt conceived yet. Can any 1 tell me that low thyroid patients can become pregnant.

Apr 30, 2014 8:00pm [ 10 ]

Please my tsh suggested subclinical hypothyroidism 3.85 while the laboratory normal range was 0.2-3.5. I have been on levothyrodism drug for a month now. I did other hormonal test lh, fsh, , prolactin, , progesterone they are normal. Though I have discharge on my breast. My menses is between 28-30 days. And I usually feel ovulation signs like mucus and egg whites. Please I want to conceive, what should I do to widen my chances. Bless you

Jun 9, 2014 9:48am [ 11 ]

My daughter has been trying to get pregnant for 8 years. The doctors and her fertility doctor say she is fine and there isn't any reason she doesn't get pregnant. He husband's tests are great also. I finally asked her to get a full thyroid test. The results came back all normal except for her RT3 is 40.1H, TSH is 2.48. What does she need to do or have done to fix this problem? Could this be the reason she isn't getting pregnant?

Jul 23, 2014 11:24pm [ 12 ]

i m Hellen,i want to share my testimony to all the people in this website about the great work of Dr.Ogbes ,for over 5years after my marriage me and my husband where looking for a baby before i meant great Dr.Ogbes who helped me cast a pregnancy spell for me to get pregnant and now i am having my 2year baby today,if you need that kind of help kindly contact him via email:landofanswer@gmail.com

Sep 26, 2014 8:55pm [ 13 ]

I was diagnosed with underactive thyroid last year. Noone in my family has thyroid issues. I am on medication and have been trying to get pregnant. The fertility specialist that we have now seen cannot help us until my thyroid is in normal range. I don't know what is the normal range. He said that my thyroid is 12. What is a 'normal' range to succeed in getting help with fertility? I have been taking 50mg of Eltroxin each morning. Should I be taking more to get it to a normal range?

Oct 9, 2014 12:46pm [ 14 ]

I have been trying to concieve for 10 yes with no luck, I have been to doctor after doctor and also had my husband checked what can I do...I am 34 and I go tomorrow to check thyroid

Nov 6, 2014 2:22am [ 15 ]

I had total thyroidectomy 2years ago but my TSH is 0.05 despite using levothyroxine tablets, while my t3 and t4 are normal. Please what do I do as I have been trying to conceive now for 7months. Must the TSH be within range to conceive.

Dec 19, 2014 8:15pm [ 16 ]

hi,i am married for 2 yrs,i have got al investigations done including hsg everything is normal,but i had done thyroid profile 2yrs back it was normal,but when i repeated again today my tsh is 7.9,t3 and t4 normal what do you suggest

Jan 27, 2015 4:20am [ 17 ]

My wife is in not safe position because she was suffering from thyroid last one year and she did not conceive regularly

Feb 4, 2015 5:58pm [ 18 ]

Hi,well I've had Hypothyroidism for almost 3 years now. I was first diagnosed after I had my child, which was 3 years ago and she is 6 now. I was not being treated due to not having insurance. Now iI am insured and finally went to the regular physician about 2 months ago. She prescribed "nature throid 65mg twice a day" I now feel like my body is getting back to normal and lost 20 pounds. As far as not being able to conceive, I have not had protected sex since my daughter was born. My OB told me that I should be able to conceive soon. I am currently waiting to take pregnancy test.only 2 more weeks and I get to find out if I'm pregnant again. Maybe this help some of you. I will be posting in 2 weeks and letting you you guys know how it turned out.

Feb 19, 2015 9:54pm [ 19 ]

I have low thyroid of 9. my age 28yrs. i got married, its running almost one and half year.. try to get pregnant.. will it be possible

Mar 6, 2015 2:09pm [ 20 ]

I've been trying to get pregnant for ten yes I have A cyst on my oviares and my thyroid are off does that mean I can't get pregnant I'm 28 please help me

Stephanie Cortez
Mar 23, 2015 2:55pm [ 21 ]

I been trying to get pregnant for 2 years now what do I need to do I'm only 23 I had a son in 2012 he is allmost 3years old

Anusha Persaud
Apr 3, 2015 4:22am [ 22 ]

I have been trying to get pregnant since January while I have thyroid problems, Im 23 years old. What do I need to do to conceive pregnancy, should I stop taking the pills?

Apr 8, 2015 1:10am [ 23 ]

Hi my name is susan, my hubby and I have been trying to conceive for two years now and yet there's nothing. My thyroid low are a bit low. Help!!

May 9, 2015 8:48am [ 24 ]

Hi I have a thyroid problem I take levrothy 50mcg everyday,I have a miscarriage in March it is possible I can get pregnant again

Jul 2, 2015 12:14pm [ 25 ]

My endocrinologist here in Beverly Hills told me your TSH when trying to conceive should be 1 or lower. I've tried for 4 years with a TSH level of 1.3 and then it jumped to 1.69 and now it's 3.6. My reproductive doctor who performed my IUIs, IVFs never told me my levels were off. In fact, all of my doctors said my levels were within normal ranges. Finally I met a fertility guide named Lin Weinberg at Spoken Origins who told me my levels were off. She insisted I get a full thyroid panel. The tests demonstrated my thyroid was having trouble converting T4 to T3 in addition to having a too high TSH. Lin told me I could test me levels without seeing a doctor by going to www.privatemdlabs.com. She was right. While doctors may mean well, not all are up to date with the latest research. Ladies we must be our own advocates in health. Get your levels tested yourself if your doctor won't test you. Yes, you pay out of pocket but well worth it. I think the full panel cost about $250. I took my results to a local doctor who agreed with Lin and has since put me on two different thyroid meds. Fingers crossed I'll be pregnant soon. The doctor believes my levels could get to where they need to be in about 3 months or less. Good luck to everyone. Baby dust to all of you!!!!

Jul 7, 2015 7:47pm [ 26 ]

Hi, i am 38 years old and i am trying to get pregnant for about 7 months. My Tsh is <0,05 while ft3 and ft4 are normal the last 2 months since i' ve been taking prothuril (one pill in the morning and one in the evening). Is it possible to get pregnant with tsh<0,05 ? Thank you in advance!

Dishaa Pavan
Jul 17, 2015 5:33pm [ 27 ]

I am 33 year old I have 1 kid he is 6years old I am suffering from thyroid from last 5years my thyroid level goes up and down recently my report was on 4apr my tsh 6.100,ft4 1.470, tpo 11.08 we r trying for second child can a get pregnant please help me

Aug 16, 2015 12:46pm [ 28 ]

Hii , I m a 25 yrs old girl suffering from hypothyroidism over 10 yrs and my t4 level is high and tsh level is also more than 7.8, need to know what are the chances that I could conceive pregnancy

Sep 2, 2015 10:40am [ 29 ]

Hi.. recently i came to am having TSH(hypothyroidism). I got married since last year, and we've planned for baby and last week i went to consult a doctor then she done the my blood test finally she told me that am having TSH is high.. Then,again i consulted endocrinology specialist and they given me LEVOTHYROXINE medicine.. just need to know could i get conceive..? please suggest helpful answer.. Thank you

Nov 6, 2015 8:10pm [ 30 ]

Hi, I got a thyroid resection surgery 5 years ago and I have to take Euthyrox to supplement hormone, I am 30 years old girl and I wonder if it will cause adverse effects to pregnancy.

Dec 12, 2015 7:46am [ 31 ]

Am a hyperthyroid patient using dose 100mg of thyroxine am trying to get pregnant it is possible or not

Sameera ishrath
Feb 11, 2016 12:21pm [ 32 ]

Can a woman with hypothyroidism have a healthy pregnancy ? Iam 25 year old recently had a miscarriage the doc diagnosed hypothyroidism today after seeing my blood test.

Mar 24, 2016 12:12pm [ 33 ]

Im 22, i have been trying to get pregnant for 2 years now. Me and my hubby have been together for 7yrs now. Ive been to doctor after doctor all of them have gave me treatments. I dont ovulat3 on my own. I have taken Clomid, ive done everything in the book. I just found out today that low thyroid can cause you not to ovulate. Could that be my problem, does anyone else have this problem.pleade help, im getting very inpatient with trying to get pregnant....

Apr 3, 2016 11:54pm [ 34 ]

I had a thyroidectomy 3 yes ago.I want to have a baby but haven't been lucky. I take levothyroxin 100mcg everyday. Please help

May 16, 2016 11:26pm [ 35 ]

I'm 20 year old , I was diagnosed with high tsh level 6.0(reference range used by my lab .35-5.5).And my obg/gyn recommend a half tablet per day (12.5mg half of this).After googling I realised that yoga and diet can help a lot in proper functioning of thyroid gland and hence I started doing yoga in the early morning for a duration of 1hour.And most importantly I "don't have any symptoms of hypothyroidism ".I just had a spotting in between a periods for a duration of 2-3 months and it stopped on its own without any medication I mean to say before I satarted taking that synthetic harmone supplement.Will it affact my future life I mean will I become infertile in future and will my tsh will increase as time lapses .I'm damn scared please do helpme with your suggestions and experience .

Jul 5, 2016 1:27am [ 36 ]

I have a thryriod problem but have brought it under control by using taking a tablet every morning. Did my test in June and all in order. Papsmear was normal.

Been trying for 5 months to get pregnant... Period is almost none - just some spotting. Last spotting 27 June. Been trying to get pregnant but all the test are negative.

How long does it take to fall pregnant if one has the thyriod gland under control, live a healthy life style. Dont smoke drink occasionally and eat healthy and expercise daily

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