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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

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.

Comments

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

Alana
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

denise
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

hitha
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.

frannie
Apr 16, 2014 6:06pm [ 7 ]

How can we get pregnant with a high tsh level?

bharati
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.

Maheen
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.

Calistar
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

Ann
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?

Hellen
Jul 23, 2014 11:24pm [ 12 ]

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