Thyroid Troubles: Hypothyroidism and Infertility

May 13, 2022
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Hypothyroidism -a word oh-so weighty, it matches its meaning in intensity and impact.

Hypothyroidism is a common gynaecological condition in which the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient thyroid hormone. The condition is known to manifest differently across women, presenting no symptoms in some, while prompting a whole variety in others. In more severe forms, hypothyroidism can affect full body functioning, slow metabolism, cause lethargy and hamper ovulation.

Understanding Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is usually caused by high levels of anti-thyroid antibodies. More rarely, it is caused by malfunction of the pituitary gland, which leads to inadequate production of thyroid stimulating hormone. Hypothyroidism is also sometimes triggered by congenital problems, inflammatory disorders, and removal or irradiation of the thyroid gland.

Hypothyroidism, Fertility & Pregnancy: The Hidden Link

Hypothyroidism poses risks to fertility and pregnancy. Some of these are outlined below.

  • Ovulatory Disorder

Hypothyroidism can impact ovulation, either directly, orby pumping up prolactin hormone levels. Prolactin is a lactation-inducing hormone that stimulates milk production in new mothers. However, in non-lactating women, a rise in prolactin could result in leaked breast discharge and irregular ovulation. Ovulatory disorder and prolactin elevation as a result of hypothyroidism can be treated with thyroid hormone supplements. Treated adequately and on time, the effect of hypothyroidism on fertility can be reversed, and ovulation, restored.

  • Miscarriage

Research indicates that hypothyroidism, both clinical and non-clinical (when peripheral thyroid hormone levels are within normal range but serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels are slightly elevated), could increase the risk of early pregnancy loss. However, it is noted that thyroid hormone therapy could mitigate this risk and reduce the chances of miscarriage.

Must read - Everything you need to know about miscarriage

  • Pregnancy Complications

If you have previously been diagnosed with clinical hypothyroidism and have recently discovered you are pregnant, it is imperative that you seek early thyroid treatment. Your baby banks on your thyroid hormone reserve for the first ten weeks of gestation, and problems with thyroid production could pose risks to your unborn child - and to you. Untreated hypothyroidism can give rise to conditions like preeclampsia, placental abruption, premature labour, low birth weight and stillbirth. Other risks to your baby include neurological defects, mental disorders and intellectual impairment.

Seeking Fertility Intervention With Hypothyroidism

Treating hypothyroidism is the first step in any fertility treatment plan. While some cases of hypothyroidism can be alleviated through lifestyle changes, others might warrant intensive hormone therapy. Fertility treatment is a recommended option for hypothyroidism-induced infertility, although there is no holy grail for the 'right' type of treatment for the condition. For a treatment to work, it must be tailored to your age, ovarian reserve, extent of hypothyroidism and medical profile. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) are both potent treatment tools that could be considered in your case.

On Cloudnine, our IUI and IVF treatments are custom-crafted by experienced fertility doctors and are noted for their minimum side effects and superlative success rates. We believe every pregnancy is unique. And that every treatment plan deserves to be, too.

Must read - Everything you need to know about IUI treatment