Thyroid issues can be blatantly obvious or invisible. Either way, thyroid problems can be a factor in fertility issues for women trying to get pregnant. Many women who are having trouble conceiving may not know that a thyroid problem is at the root of their fertility issues. Dr. Susan L. Treiser, a reproductive endocrinologist, co-founder and co-director of IVF New Jersey, an Attain Fertility® Center , sees this situation often and offers information and advice to women.
There are two basic thyroid categories, Hyperthyroid and Hypothyroid. Women who are having difficulty getting pregnant and recognize any of the symptoms should see a specialist right away. Hyperthyroid symptoms include: weight loss, trouble maintaining weight, trouble sleeping, mood swings, feeling nervous and irritable, rapid and irregular heartbeat and feeling hot.
Hypothyroid symptoms include: trouble losing weight, easy weight gain, feeling sluggish and depressed, constipation, aching joints and muscles, and feeling cold. In addition, one of the most common symptoms of both Hyperthyroid and Hypothyroid is an irregular menstrual cycle which can be an indicator of infertility.
Dr. Treiser suggests that even if women don’t have any of the symptoms, a simple thyroid test performed by an endocrinologist will help rule out possible causes of infertility. The test will determine whether too much or not enough Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is being produced. TSH triggers the thyroid to produce two different hormones, T3 and T4. When the thyroid produces too much (hyperthyroid) or too little (hypothyroid) of these hormones thyroid problems can occur, including fertility problems.
One culprit in cases of hyperthyroidism that can lead to infertility and other health issues is having too much iodine in your diet. “The thyroid gland needs a certain amount of dietary iodine to keep it healthy,” explains Dr. Treiser. “Found in regular table salt and other food sources, too much iodine can lead to a hyperthyroid. Conversely, on rare occasions, low iodine in a diet can lead to a hypothyroid.”
Whether hyper- or hypothyroid, under the care of a fertility specialist, women have very good chances of becoming pregnant. “There are risks and being monitored by a specialist throughout the pregnancy is extremely important,” said Dr. Treiser. “Women who are hyperthyroid may run the risk of having a low birth-weight baby or have problems with pre-term labor. Those with a hypothyroid may have a higher risk of miscarrying. The bottom line is that women with any type of thyroid issue need to work with a fertility specialist and be monitored regularly to ensure a healthy pregnancy.”