When To See The Doctor
A major mistake that most women make is that they often wait for problems to go away on their own and avoid consulting their healthcare provider. When sudden changes in menstrual period and flow occur, it’s a sign that something is wrong, and you should see the doctor in order to determine the cause of these irregularities and prevent potential complications in the future.
If these problems happen frequently, your doctor may want to evaluate thyroid hormone levels. In cases then thyroid conditions are to blame for menstrual irregularities proper management of those diseases could normalize your cycle as well.
You should also see your doctor if you have:
- Intense or increased menstrual cramps
- A thyroid condition and treatment, but menstrual irregularities still occur
- Heavy menstrual bleeding lasting for more than 24 hours
- Menstrual periods that last seven days or longer
- Menstrual periods that come in a shorter timeframe than what is considered normal
- Periods that stopped for about three months or longer and you are not pregnant
Thyroid Health And Fertility
Hypothyroidism can interact with other important processes that are responsible for making and releasing two crucial reproductive hormones: follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone .In women, FSH – as the name suggests – stimulates the follicles of the ovary to grow in preparation for releasing an egg, while LH helps to regulate the menstrual cycle and ovulation. An imbalance of these hormones affects ovulation and is a major cause of female fertility problems.
Hypothyroidism can have a direct effect on these hormones: a deficiency in thyroxine leads to lower levels of FSH and LH in the blood.
Some studies have found that subfertile women – those who haven’t conceived after a year of regular, unprotected sex – tend to have higher levels of TSH and increased rates of hypothyroidism than women who conceive without difficulty. In addition, pregnancy rates tend to be lower in women with raised TSH levels.Once a woman falls pregnant, the thyroid’s job continues by contributing to the normal growth of the baby in a number of ways, including the transfer of crucial thyroxine from the mother to the baby through the placenta.
“Thyroid hormones affect the growth of your baby’s brain early on during the pregnancy,” adds Simon Pearce, professor of endocrinology at the University of Newcastle. “Abnormal circulating thyroid hormone levels in the mother during pregnancy are associated with poor pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage.”
Thyroid Autoantibodies And Reproductive Health
Thyroid autoantibodies can negatively affect your fertility and reproductive health. In fact around 50% of women with Hashimotos or Graves disease experience infertility.
Even if you have normal thyroid function , the presence of thyroid autoantibodies still puts you at higher risk of fertility problems, miscarriage and preterm birth. It can also result in poorer outcomes during fertility treatment and may increase the risk of abnormal cognitive development in the baby.
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How Common Are Fertility Struggles
Many couples struggle to conceive and the term infertility is used whenever pregnancy doesnt occur. However, infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant, despite making efforts, for a year or longer according to the CDC.
Women are considered infertile if they are unable to get pregnant after six months.
Although every man or woman who goes through fertility issues thinks others dont face the same problem, figures show the opposite.
About 6% of married women aged 15-44 are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying. In addition, 12% women are unable to get or stay pregnant regardless of the marital status.
In 35% couples with infertility, a male factor is identified together with the female factor. For 8% of cases, male infertility is the only identifiable cause. Numerous factors play a role in fertility of both men and women. Below, we discuss the role of the thyroid.
Anything Else I Should Know About Thyroid Problems And Fertility
A small number of women with thyroid problems, may have an associated autoimmune component to the disorder. This means that their bodys immune system starts to attack the thyroid. If this occurs, the bodys immune system may also start to attack other organs of the body. If the ovaries are affected, this can result in Premature Ovarian Failure.
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More Info About Hyperthyroidism And Menstrual Problems
Studies have connected hyperthyroidism with menstrual irregularities as well. These are the problems that may occur when hypothyroidism is undiagnosed or improperly managed:
- Delayed puberty or late menstruation Unlike hypothyroidism, which causes early onset of the first period hyperthyroidism can delay the start of puberty. Girls with hyperthyroidism may get their first period at 15 or older
- Light menstrual periods Hyperthyroid women tend to have periods that are lighter than normal
- Shorter menstrual periods While hypothyroidism can prolong your periods, hyperthyroidism can shorten them. Bear in mind that a short period isnt automatically better
- Sporadic menstrual periods Hyperthyroid women may find that their periods dont occur at a normal rate. They may have a period one month and a pause of month or two before the next period
- Absent menstrual periods Besides sporadic menstruations, women with hyperthyroidism may experience a complete absence of their periods for a certain period of time
How Thyroid Dysfunction Affects The Progression Of Endometriosis
Recent research done by the Paris Descartes University looked at the relationship between endometriosis and autoimmune thyroid disorders, and how thyroid dysfunction affects the progression of endometriosis. Within the research, there have been three key findings. First, researchers found that the levels of RNA molecules and proteins involved in thyroid metabolism were altered in people with endometriosis. These RNA molecules act as templates to make proteins, and when altered, impact the performance of key functions in endometriotic cells. Additionally, in endometriotic cells, the number of thyroid hormones is altered. T4 production was increased and T3 was reduced. The imbalance in T3 and T4 hormones can lead to thyroid dysfunction. Therefore, this finding provides evidence that women with endometriosis have a higher chance of hormone imbalance and thyroid dysfunction. Finally, the researchers found a positive, linear relationship between the concentration of T3 and T4 thyroid hormones and endometriotic implant size. This means that increasing levels of thyroid hormones may increase endometriotic implant growth. Considering these three points, the results of the study show strong evidence of a connection between endometriosis and thyroid dysfunction. Researchers stated, In humans, thyroid disorders are associated with more severe forms of endometriosis.
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What Thyroid Disorders Are Most Commonly Associated With Fertility
Doctors look for abnormalities in hormone levels, which typically result in a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid overproduces hormones. Patients may suffer from anxiety, tremors, rapid heart rate, weight loss, more frequent bowel movements, intolerance to heat, and brittle hair. Infertility symptoms can include loss of libido and menstrual cycle irregularities. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid under-produces hormones. Common symptoms include fatigue, low energy, muscle weakness, weight gain, depression, constipation, intolerance to cold, and dry skin. Infertility symptoms can include menstrual cycle abnormalities with cycles being heavier and less frequent, a low Basal Body Temperature and difficulty conceiving. As you can see, some of these signs can be indicative of other fertility problems, making symptoms a challenge to assess.
Thyroid Hormones Play A Role In Endometrial Health
Although the underlying why is unknown, autoimmune thyroid disorders are associated with endometriosis. Women with endometriosis are at an increased risk for thyroid disease or dysfunction, and endometriosis patients who do suffer from thyroid dysfunction may have an increased risk of more intense chronic pain and increase endometriosis severity. Whether youre someone currently living with endometriosis, or showing symptoms of either endometriosis or thyroid dysfunction, its important to understand the connection between the two so you can continue to advocate for your health.
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Ways To Take Control Of Your Thyroid Health And Fertility
Every woman is unique in how infertility and thyroid health affect one another. Sometimes thyroid problems cause infertility, while other times, they are only one part of a womans infertility challenges. Empower yourself with these top eight things you need to know about thyroid health and fertility.
1. Learn About Thyroid Tests
If your doctor is only testing for TSH, request getting checked for free-circulating thyroid hormones by asking specifically for Free T3 and Free T4. Its important that you get the free versions, as these are the most accurate way to assess actual thyroid hormone available to your cells.
Most doctors will require that these tests be done after fasting overnight and before you take any thyroid medications. Your first test will essentially be a baseline. If youre out of the normal range, it will give a goal to work toward with medication. If youre in the normal range but at the low end, and still experiencing problems, you may still require a boost of medication to get you to the optimal part of the range for you. After a few tests, youll have a good gauge of where you feel best.
2. Get Those Antibodies Checked
You should also get tested for thyroid antibodies if you have a family history of thyroid disease or any kind of autoimmunity. If youve been diagnosed as hypothyroid but you cant seem to get your thyroid under control, ruling out autoimmune causes can help to pinpoint the next steps.
There are two kinds of thyroid antibodies:
How To Test Your Thyroid
If you suspect you have thyroid dysfunction, its important to get a comprehensive panel that screens all of the thyroid hormones. Some doctors may only screen for TSH and/or T4, but because of the complexity of thyroid function its important that you do a full test that screens for:
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
TPO: 0-15 IU/mLTGAB: 0-0.9 IU/mL
Not in range? Please work with a functional medicine or naturopathic doctor who can partner with you to find the underlying causes and provide sustainable solutions. Also, keep reading for my tips on natural thyroid support!
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Thyroid Autoimmunity And Fertility
Thyroid autoimmunity is the most common cause of thyroid disorders.
Hashimotos thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism while Graves disease causes hyperthyroidism. Thyroid autoimmunity occurs when the bodys immune system starts attacking healthy cells and tissues, in this case, thyroid.
Women with thyroid autoimmunity can experience fertility problems too. Poppe et al found that prevalence of thyroid autoimmunity is significantly higher in infertile women than their fertile counterparts. Although having an autoimmune thyroid condition does not interfere with normal embryo implantation, the risk of miscarriage in early stages of pregnancy is high.
The connection between thyroid autoimmunity, endometriosis, and ovarian failure has been identified in some studies. Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when bits of the tissue that lines the uterus grow on the pelvic organs like fallopian tubes and ovaries.
The condition has been an association with various immunological changes such as the presence of autoantibodies to endometrial antigens, the decline in the concentration of natural killer cells, complement deposits, among others.
Hashimotos Thyroiditis And Pcos: Is There A Connection
If you have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, you are well aware that one the tell-tale sign is that your hormone levels are out of balance. Common symptoms include menstrual irregularity, problematic acne, and excessive hair growth. You may also struggle with your weight due to the disruptions that PCOS causes to your metabolism, and you may have difficulty getting pregnant.
Hashimotos thyroiditis, an autoimmune hypothyroid condition in which the bodys immune system attacks the thyroidis three times more common in women with PCOS than in women without it.
If you are a woman with PCOS, your body may be producing too much androgen. Androgens are a class of male sex hormones, in particular, testosterone, that are found in smaller but necessary levels in women too. Higher levels of androgen may interfere with a womans ability to get pregnant for this reason, many women with PCOS struggle with infertility.
Surprisingly, the researchers found that high levels of androgen are less common in patients who have both conditions: Hashimotos thyroiditis and PCOS. This hormone pattern was confirmed even when looking at testosterone alonean increased testosterone level is not found in patients with both conditions.
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Thyroid Problems And Fertility
Thyroid problems may affect the hormonal levels and consequently fertility. In women, the hormonal fluctuations may cause anovulation or irregular periods. Thyroid problems can also cause luteal phase defect , which is the time between ovulation and menstruation that is less than 10 days. Ideally the luteal phase is between 12 and 14 days. Women with LPD have fewer chances of conceiving. Thyroid problems can also cause early miscarriage in pregnant women. Thyroid stimulating hormone levels should be normal for optimal conditions of conception. When the TSH levels are above of below 5 or 5.5, there is a hormonal imbalance.
How Can Thyroid Disorders Effect Your Fertility
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can each negatively impact fertilityboth the ability to become pregnant and the ability to carry a fetus to term. The presence of autoimmune antibodies, with or without hyper or hypothyroidism, can also impact your fertility.
Dr. Elena Christofides MD, FACE, and Fellow of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, explains that abnormal TSH levels can interfere with ovulation, and that, when you have any type of thyroid disorder , you will see a luteal phase disruption.
This is mediated by progesterone levels. If a thyroid disorder is unregulated, a patient could have difficulty getting pregnant because there will not be implantation. You could also experience early miscarriage because of incomplete implantation.
Signs of low levels or misfunctioning of progesterone include:
- A shorter or longer cycle than your typical menstrual cycle
- Lighter or heavier bleeding than is typical for you
- Longer or shorter windows for bleeding than is typical for you
Fertility is not a female-only concern. Thyroid disorders in men can also affect a couples fertility. Dysregulated thyroid function can damage sperm quality and motility, making it difficult for the sperm to enter the egg for implantation.
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Is There Anything I Can Do On My Own
Living a healthy lifestyle always supports fertility. Excess weight can contribute to hormonal imbalances, throwing ovulation off in women and hormone balance off in men as well. Exercise regularly, keep stress low, stay away from cigarettes and marijuana, limit alcohol to no more than a drink per day, and limit caffeine to two servings per day. A healthy diet rich in iodine, whole grains, veggies and lean protein can also help. Iodine-rich foods can include navy beans, strawberries, whole fat yogurt, raw cranberry, dried seaweed, cod fish, tuna, and turkey breast. Your physician may also recommend natural supplements such as Zinc, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Vitamin B and Vitamin C.
B Impact Of Ovarian Hyperstimulation On Thyroid Function
1 In women with or without thyroid autoimmunity features
The graphs depict the patterns of time-related changes of serum TSH and FT4 values , collected before COH and 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 d after successful ovulation induction. Left panels, There were significant changes among all patients over time for both serum TSH and FT4 concentrations . Right panels, Patterns of serum TSH and FT4 changes over time were different in TPO-Ab positive and TPO-Ab negative patients .
2 According to the type of ovarian hyperstimulation
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Hyperthyroidism And Reproductive Health
Hyperthyroidism is less common than hypothyroidism, but it can also affect your fertility and reproductive health.
Hyperthyroidism is associated with disrupted menstrual cycles and subfertility and may also be associated with miscarriage. In the case of Graves disease its also associated with pregnancy complications and an increased risk to the health and development of the baby.
What Is The Treatment For Thyroid Disorders
Hypothyroidism is usually treated with thyroid replacement therapy. This is achieved with medication that supplies and regulates the thyroid that the body is not currently producing in the correct amount.
Hyperthyroidism is also treated with medications, but these medications are used to decrease production of the thyroid hormone, which is being produced in excess. The medications also inhibit the secretions of thyroxine . In addition, physicians have to locate the source of the increased thyroid hormone production so they can destroy it using radioactive iodine.
If you are experiencing symptoms of thyroid disorders like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, Contact the reproductive endocrinologists at Dallas-Fort Worth Fertility Associates for a consultation about how thyroid disorders may be causing infertility problems.
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Who Is At Risk Of Developing Thyroid Problems
Women and people over 60 years of age have a higher risk of developing either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. If you’ve been pregnant or had a baby within the past six months, you also face a higher risk.
Personal or family history risk factors can also play a role, including:
- Prior thyroid problems, such as a goiter or a family history of them
- Prior thyroid surgery or radiation treatments to the neck or chest
- Anemia, type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Turner’s syndrome or Sjogren’s syndrome
- Consuming high-iodine foods, medications or supplements
Natural Thyroid Support For Male Fertility
While testing is critical, natural approaches can support the thyroid gland and optimal fertility. Diet changes are a good place to start. The thyroid gland requires iodine for proper functioning. Men with low thyroid often have more energy when they include more iodine-rich, organic seaweed, seafood, or cranberries in their diet.
For low thyroid , its important to avoid anti-thyroid nutrients like excessive, uncooked cruciferous vegetables and soy foods. These foods block healthy thyroid activity. Reducing them can produce a great change, especially for men with fertility issues who have been on a raw foods diet or a vegetarian diet that relies heavily on soy.
A formula like Thyromin that contains nutrients that can encourage healthy thyroid function in men and women alike.
In addition, consider natural adrenal support. The thyroid and adrenal glands work together. A supplement that benefits one will benefit the other. A good choice is a blend like Adrenal Strength, which contains 100% whole food nutrients, medicinal mushrooms, and tonic herbs like Schisandra .
High thyroid is harder to address naturally. However, herbs like Bugleweed and Motherwort can calm thyroid storms and relax the heart. An immune balancing program may also help normalize thyroid antibody production.
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