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July 12, 2023 9 min read

Among the many components playing pivotal roles in the human body, the thyroid gland stands noteworthy yet often understated. Hypothyroidism, a thyroid disorder characterized by an underactive thyroid gland, can significantly interfere with a woman's fertility, instigating a cascade of effects upon conception and pregnancy.

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland, located at the base of your neck, doesn't function as it normally should and does not produce enough thyroid hormones, especially thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are like the body's task managers, helping your body use and store the energy it needs to function properly.

This operation is watched over by the pituitary gland, a small organ tucked away at the base of your brain. The pituitary gland acts as the control room, keeping track of the amounts of T4 and T3 in your blood. When it senses that these hormone levels are low, which isn't the sign of a normally functioning thyroid, it releases a hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to give your thyroid a nudge to make more T3 and T4.

Every cell in your body relies on these thyroid hormones to regulate their energy use. So, when there's an imbalance in the production of these hormones, it can throw your body's functions out of whack. This can lead to changes in anything from energy levels and weight to menstrual cycles. So, keeping these key hormones in balance is really important for your body to work as it should.

How does hypothyroidism affect ovulation and fertility?

A study published in the Journal of Pregnancy showed that women with hypothyroidism often face challenges during conception and typically take longer to conceive. The thyroid disease might lead to irregular ovulation or sometimes even absence of ovulation. Similar fertility challenges can extend to men with hypothyroidism, manifesting as low libido and low sperm count. Plus, the fatigue commonly associated with hypothyroidism may further affect fertility, limiting the frequency of sexual activity.

But what's the connection between hypothyroidism, ovulation, and fertility?

Well, understanding how hypothyroidism affects fertility requires a deep understanding of the hormonal interactions in reproductive health. The thyroid, an organ impacting every part of the body, extends its influence to the reproductive system as well.

The communication between the pituitary and thyroid gland via thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) initiates a hormonal chain reaction. This chain reaction occurs under the management of the hypothalamus-pituitary axis (HPA), crucial for the release of fertility hormones - including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), both vital for conception and early pregnancy stages. Therefore, any imbalance in the thyroid hormones could inherently impact these fertility hormones, leading to overall disruption in the reproductive cycle.

In addition, hypothyroidism can cause elevated levels of prolactin due to decreased thyroxine (T4) levels or increased thyroid-releasing hormone (TRH). This can sometimes result in no egg being released during ovulation. Other complications, such as a shortened second half of the menstrual cycle, low basal body temperature, high thyroid peroxidase antibodies, and ovarian cysts, can hinder the fertilized egg from attaching to the womb – leading to pregnancy complications or failure to become pregnant.

Can hypothyroidism cause poor egg quality?

It's possible for hypothyroidism to cause poor egg quality, even when you have a mild case of hypothyroidism (subclinical hypothyroidism or subclinical thyroid disease). In a study conducted at a fertility clinic in China from 2015 to 2020, medical records of 3501 women aged between 20 to 40 years struggling with fertility were examined. All women had normal TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels and no past record of thyroid diseases or usage of thyroid medications.

Keep in mind that elevated TSH levels may indicate hypothyroidism.

About two-thirds (62.5%) of the women had TSH levels in the lower half of the normal range. These women had more issues with their ovaries compared to the other group. But the remaining third (37.5%) had TSH levels in the higher half of the normal range. This group faced other challenges. They had lower levels of a hormone that helps egg development and fewer egg-producing cells compared to the first group. Also, they more often had signs of autoimmune thyroid disease, which means the body mistakenly attacks your own thyroid gland.

Factoring in variables like age, BMI, and the presence of autoimmune thyroid disease, it was discovered that women with higher-normal TSH levels more often experienced "diminished ovarian reserve," indicating fewer healthy eggs in the ovaries in comparison to women with lower-normal TSH levels (5.1% vs. 3.5%). In simple terms, higher-normal TSH levels made it more difficult for these women to conceive due to having fewer healthy eggs.

Should you get your thyroid checked before trying to get pregnant?

If you've been experiencing fatigue, cold sensitivity, constipation, dry skin, unexplained weight gain, muscle weakness, or heavier, irregular periods as a woman, these could be indicators of hypothyroidism. It's a condition that may need to be tested for via a simple blood test. This test measures the quantity of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in your bloodstream, with high levels indicating the presence of hypothyroidism, as stated by the American Thyroid Association. To gain a comprehensive understanding of your thyroid health, your doctor may also evaluate your T4 levels and check for the presence of thyroid antibodies.

If you're wondering whether to get tested for thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism before trying to conceive, the answer leans toward "yes." The rationale behind this is that the trend of women choosing to become pregnant at an older age increases the chances of acquiring hypothyroidism since the thyroid is a particularly sensitive organ, with the occurrence of failure being relatively frequent.

Acknowledging that hypothyroidism is among several common conditions that can be detected during a pre-pregnancy health check, the American Pregnancy Association emphasizes it's preferable to identify and tackle any health issues before conception. If you have a family history of thyroid health problems, the case for pre-pregnancy testing is even stronger, as the British Thyroid Foundation suggests.

Women having trouble conceiving or those who have previously experienced miscarriages might absolutely want to consider getting tested. Ultimately, taking proactive steps in safeguarding your health enhances your path to conceiving, ensuring that you're in the best possible position to start or grow your family.

What is the optimal TSH for fertility?

When talking about fertility and preparations for a healthy pregnancy, it's crucial to maintain balanced thyroid hormone levels. Generally, normal TSH levels hover around 3 to 3.5, but for those intending to conceive or manage thyroid hormones during pregnancy, the optimal TSH range lies between 1 and 2.4.

Again, high levels of TSH indicate low thyroid activity, which demands attention. On the other hand, low levels of TSH might point towards a hyperactive thyroid (too much thyroid hormone), a condition that would also need addressing. Both situations can significantly affect the development of an unborn child, calling for proper management to avoid complications during pregnancy.

Particularly, low TSH levels could potentially lead to miscarriages. High TSH levels, specifically later in pregnancy, can pass through the placenta, thus impacting the growing fetus. Being aware and proactive about your TSH levels can be a significant step towards ensuring a smooth pregnancy journey.

Is it possible to have a successful pregnancy with hypothyroidism?

Achieving a healthy and successful pregnancy while dealing with hypothyroidism might appear difficult, but it's certainly not impossible. With the right medical intervention and understanding of the condition, plus regular check-ups, you can confidently navigate this journey.

Hypothyroidism, if left untreated, can pose an increased risk of miscarriage and potentially impact fetal development, which can lead to premature birth. The condition can also affect fertility, making it somewhat more difficult for you to get pregnant. But don't lose hope. Once you get proper treatment and get your normal thyroid function back, your chances of getting pregnant may significantly improve.

1. Treat your hypothyroidism with thyroid replacement therapy

A key component of treating hypothyroidism, especially for those planning for pregnancy, is commencing thyroid replacement therapy.

Levothyroxine Treatment

A common prescription for those with hypothyroidism, Levothyroxine is a synthetic form of the T4 thyroid hormone. This medication strives to augment low levels of thyroid hormones, thereby easing the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism. Despite its popularity, it's crucial to remember that Levothyroxine may not yield similar results for everyone. As individual responses to treatments can greatly vary, some patients may continue to experience symptoms even while on Levothyroxine treatment.

Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT)

If you're exploring alternative treatment options, Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT) might pique your interest. Sourced from the thyroid glands of pigs, NDT contains both T3 and T4 hormones, offering a more well-rounded hormone replacement solution.

NDT can often be a preferable choice, particularly for those who find it hard to convert T4 into the active T3 hormone. By closely mimicking the natural hormones found in the body, NDT can lead to better symptom control, potentially making you feel healthier overall.

In the United States, the two big-name brands of Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT), Armour Thyroid and NP Thyroid, are widely used and trusted for treating hypothyroidism.

But that's not the whole story. You can also buy desiccated thyroid online as a dietary supplement. A top pick for many is VitaliThy.

What's in VitaliThy, you ask? First, it has porcine thyroid powder, which contains pretty much the same as the thyroid hormones your body makes by itself. Then there's spica prunellae siccus extract, an age-old herb with tons of health perks.

But there's more. VitaliThy also has ashwagandha extract. This is a super herb, loaded with antioxidants, and it's known to help reduce stress. Plus, there's selenium yeast, a key player that supports your thyroid health.

Best of all, if you need to follow a specific diet or have certain allergies, VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online, has got your back. It's totally free from common allergy-causing stuff like gluten, lactose, eggs, fish, and shellfish, and it doesn't have any artificial colors or flavors.

Always remember that your path to a successful pregnancy with hypothyroidism is personal and unique. Regardless of the chosen method, ensuring regular consultations with your healthcare provider is crucial in tailoring the best treatment plan for you and your future baby.

2. Regular monitoring

When you're pregnant, it's extra important to keep an eye on how hypothyroidism might affect you. Remember, your thyroid hormones aren't just for you anymore; they also help your little one grow and develop, which can make your thyroid work harder.

That might sound a bit scary, but with regular doctor visits and the right medicine, you can manage it just fine. It's really important to keep a close watch on your hormone levels throughout your pregnancy. Since your growing baby puts more demand on your thyroid, you might need a bit more help, which can come in the form, your doctor might need to tweak your medication to cover these extra demands.

And don't forget, even after your baby is born, it's important to keep up with these regular doctor visits. They'll help ensure you're staying healthy and managing your hypothyroidism effectively as you start this amazing journey of being a mom.

3. Lifestyle changes

While medication serves as a crucial part of managing hypothyroidism, certain lifestyle modifications can also aid in naturally maintaining hormonal balance and promoting better thyroid function.

Well-rounded, healthy habits can do wonders. Ensuring you are well-rested, effectively dealing with stress, promoting regular physical activity, keeping a check on harmful habits, and maintaining a healthy body weight all contribute to hormonal balance.

These changes can be especially impactful when observed in your menstrual cycle since it's closely tied to hormonal fluctuations. Keeping a close watch on your cycle and taking note of how you feel throughout can clue you in on these shifts.

Numerous measures can assist you in deciphering your ovulation patterns, enriching your understanding of your cycle, and aiding your journey toward fertility. Methods could include Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPKs), temperature tracking, ultrasound scans, and lab tests, among others. Particularly for those who are trying to conceive, monitoring fertility-associated hormones can be instrumental in:

  • Gaining insights about your unique cycle patterns.

  • Anticipating ovulation and identifying the best window for conception.

  • Timing intercourse strategically for the optimal possibility of conception.

  • Verifying the occurrence of ovulation.

In essence, while medication plays a significant role in managing hypothyroidism, lifestyle adjustments, hormonal monitoring, and cycle tracking can enhance quality of life, fertility, and overall health management.

Conclusion: Having a successful pregnancy is possible even with hypothyroidism

It's essential to understand that hypothyroidism while posing challenges to fertility and pregnancy, does not necessarily mean you can't have a successful pregnancy and childbirth. Engage in open discussions with healthcare professionals, get necessary tests done, and explore a variety of treatment options suitable for you, such as Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT).

NDT, a holistic alternative to standard thyroid hormone replacement therapy, supplements your body with both T3 and T4, thus potentially providing a more comprehensive treatment. Among suitable options, the NDT supplement VitaliThy is an online choice for many, attributing to its beneficial constituents - porcine thyroid powder, Spica Prunellae Siccus extract, Ashwagandha extract, and selenium yeast.

Replete with natural ingredients and devoid of common allergens, VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online, supports your thyroid health without compromising your dietary preferences. Balancing medication with a healthy lifestyle and regular monitoring can effectively manage hypothyroidism, laying the foundation for a healthy pregnancy and comfortable parenthood journey.

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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