If you have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for more than 6 months, before embarking on invasive medical procedures and spending thousands of dollars on assisted reproductive technology, make sure your thyroid is functioning optimally.
Many women don’t realize that good thyroid function is necessary for fertility, the ability to conceive and maintain a pregnancy. A deficient (or excessive) thyroid can prevent you from achieving that much-desired pregnancy. While there are many and varied reasons for infertility, suboptimal thyroid function can be that “missing link,” especially for those without specific reproductive issues.
A complete thyroid evaluation is essential and should be done as soon as possible for any woman who wants to get pregnant, especially if she:
- You have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for more than 6 months.
- Have had two or more miscarriages
- You have an irregular menstrual cycle.
- You have a 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 larynx and just above the clavicles. Every cell in the body depends on thyroid hormones to regulate the body’s metabolism, blood calcium levels, energy production, fat metabolism, oxygen utilization, balance of other hormones, and weight maintenance.
Hormones related to thyroid function include thyroid-releasing hormone (TRH) released by 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) and triiodothyronine (T3). Much of the 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 conversion to the active form depends on the trace mineral Selenium.
Healthy thyroid function can be affected by:
- Exposure to environmental toxins: electromagnetic radiation, chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, eg mercury and fluoride.
- genetic predisposition
- high stress levels
- nutrient deficiencies
- autoimmune disorders
- Other hormonal imbalances, eg estrogen dominance, high prolactin levels
How does hypothyroidism (low) affect fertility?
anovulatory cycles – do not release an egg / ovulate. This makes pregnancy impossible.
Luteal phase problems – With a short second half of the menstrual cycle, a fertilized egg cannot implant safely and ends up leaving the body at the same time menstruation would occur (very early miscarriage) and is often mistaken for a regular period.
high prolactin levels – due to elevated thyroid-releasing hormone (TRH) levels and low thyroxine (T4) levels resulting in irregular ovulation or no ovulation.
Other hormonal imbalances – Reduced sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, all of which interfere with the proper balance of reproductive hormones.
Your Thyroid Evaluation Checklist:
1. Do you have any of the common signs and symptoms associated with low thyroid function?
- Inability to conceive/infertility
- Spontaneous abortion
- menstrual irregularities
- vintage bread
- low libido
- lethargy and tiredness
- Susceptibility to cold/cold hands and feet
- inability to lose weight
- Changes in skin texture, nails, hair, hair loss
- recurring infections
two. Is your basal temperature consistently below 36.5 degrees C? Take your resting oral temperature first thing in the morning before getting out of bed for 7 to 10 days in the first 14 days of your cycle. Your temperature should be between 36 and 37 degrees C, but ideally above 36.5 degrees C.
3. Blood test – For a complete thyroid evaluation, you need TSH, T4, T3, rT3, and thyroid antibody readings. HRT may also be required. For optimal fertility, your TSH level should be between 1 and 2. Your doctor or naturopath can order these tests for you.
Four. Urinary iodine – Iodine is a key component of the thyroid hormone. Iodine excess, as well as iodine deficiency, can lead to low thyroid function. Your doctor or naturopath can order this test for you.
5. Diet and lifestyle – Our modern western diet is a major contributor to the rise in thyroid health problems. Foods detrimental to thyroid health include refined grains, simple sugars, soy products, peanuts and peanut products, caffeine, hydrogenated oils, smoking, and alcohol. Excessive consumption of vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, turnips, and Brussels sprouts have the ability to block iodine absorption.
Exposure to heavy metals, eg mercury (amalgam fillings) and fluoride (water supply, toothpaste) can also be harmful.
Stress management is imperative. Stress produces elevated levels of cortisol, the main hormone released by the adrenal glands. The increase in cortisol will inhibit the conversion of T4 to the active T3 hormone.
Exercise is beneficial as it will stimulate the secretion of thyroid hormones and increase the sensitivity of the tissues to thyroid hormones.
Thyroid function treatment is not a magic cure for all fertility problems, but I have found that for many women, once their thyroid health was improved, their fertility problems were resolved and they went on to have a healthy pregnancy. they enjoyed the treasures of motherhood.
If you suspect that less than ideal thyroid health may be contributing to your fertility difficulties or simply affecting your overall health, take action now!