Have you been detected with thyroid disorders and are having trouble in conceiving? Solving thyroid problems before conceiving is a very important step. The thyroid is a very important fertility gland and uneven levels of thyroid can drastically affect the chances of you getting pregnant. Hormonal imbalance can act as a trigger for thyroid imbalance. Doctors have known for quite a long time that women with low thyroid levels struggle with fertility. Unexplained infertility treatments in women show signs of thyroid glands performing at low-normal levels. Women suffering from thyroid disorders are supposed to have twice as likely higher levels of TSH or Thyroid Stimulating Hormones than women who do not have infertility problems due to thyroid.
What is thyroid?
Thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located just below the larynx in the lower part of the neck. The purpose of this gland is to take iodine from the food we consume and convert them into thyroid hormones- t4 and t3, thyroxin and triiodothyronine respectively. The thyroid cells are the only cells in the body that can absorb iodine from food. Once the thyroid hormones are released into the bloodstream, they control our metabolism. The Thyroid hormone regulates important body functions like breathing, heart rate, nervous system, body weight, muscle strength, menstrual cycles, body temperature and much more. The thyroid hormones regulate the speed with which the cells work. T3 and T4 travel in the bloodstream to reach every cell in the body. For example, if T3 and T4 levels are low the heart rate may be slower than normal and a person might gain a lot of weight. If T3 and T4 levels are high, the heart rate may be fast and there will be rapid weight loss. Elevated TSH levels can indicate an underactive thyroid gland.
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Role of thyroid gland in conceiving:
The thyroid glands monitor metabolic levels of each cell, hormone levels in the body and promote weight balancing. Thyroid levels are every now and then affected by:
- Increased stress levels
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Immunity disorder
- Excessive levels of estrogens and prolactin in the body
Thyroid and conception:
This is when you have an underactive thyroid and if untreated or under treatment, conception will become very difficult. One may have longer, heavier menses which can cause anemia. Sometimes it can also cause the menses to stop. But with the help of medications and when the thyroid hormones are back to normal, the chances of conceiving increase drastically. If a person suffers from hypothyroidism she can have the following issues:
- Difficulty in losing weight
- Extreme hair loss
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Muscle pain
- Irregular menstrual cycles
This is when you have an over-active thyroid function. This is just the opposite of Hypothyroidism. Here, the menses are very light and irregular in cycle and women suffer from loss of libido. This also interferes with ovulation. The irregularity makes conception even more difficult. Here, after a treatment, if you want to conceive, you should have a blood test to check your thyroid condition. A person suffering from Hyperthyroidism can have the following issues:
- Sudden weight loss
- Brittle hair quality
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased appetite
- Enlarged thyroid glands
If left untreated, thyroid disorders can cause serious problems in pregnancy. Problems like anemia, miscarriage, preeclampsia, placental abruption and postpartum hemorrhage are common.
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How does thyroid affect the potential to conceive?
#1. Affects your menstrual cycle
If someone is diagnosed with thyroid disorders, it may cause Anovulatory cycles. This is a condition where there is an absence of ovulation which is the most important part of conceiving. Without any ovulation, there will be an absence of eggs which need to be fertilized for pregnancy.
#2. Implantation problems
Thyroid disorders also affect the menstrual cycle; thus affecting the progesterone levels. Progesterone is a hormone secreted by the woman’s ovaries. It is called the pregnancy hormone because it helps the woman’s body to achieve and maintain pregnancy. In case of thyroid a fertilised egg may not be able to attach itself to the uterus. Thus, it will leave the body early due to early menses. This particular action is termed as early miscarriage and is often misunderstood as early period cycle.
#3. Basal body temperature
Thyroid disorders result in lower basal body temperature. Due to lower basal body temperature, an embryo may not develop and this increases the chances of an early miscarriage.
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#4. Prolactin levels
An increased production of prolactin does not support ovulation. Low thyroxin levels and high TRH (Thyroid releasing hormone) are the causes for increased prolactin. It has a negative effect on fertility.
How to conceive with Thyroid disorders?
A healthy and nutritious diet along with a healthy lifestyle is the main change that you can make to improve your thyroid functions. This, along with proper medications can help you change the course and conceive properly. A person suffering from thyroid should avoid overeating, fatty foods and excessive salt products.
Also read: Tests & Scans Before & During Pregnancy
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