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How Thyroid Function Affects Fertility

Last Updated Oct 20, 2020

If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for more than six months, have you considered to get your thyroid gland checked? It is extremely crucial to have optimal thyroid function when it comes to fertility for both men and women.

Thyroid and Pregnancy

Known as the “Master Controller,” the thyroid gland controls your whole body’s metabolism (the process of converting food into energy), brain and digestive function, blood pressure, and the pacing of the heart beat. In fact, the thyroid hormone is required by every cell in the body to function properly.

Some prescription medications like cholesterol lowering drugs and steroids can affect and block thyroid function. Mineral deficiency also plays a critical role in thyroid health. For example, a deficiency of the mineral iodine can lower thyroid function because iodine is important in producing thyroid hormone.

For optimal fertility, the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, should always be in balance. If there is a decline in progesterone level, oestrogen levels rise which create an imbalance called oestrogen dominance. The problem with this as it causes the liver to produce Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG) which prevents the thyroid hormone to be properly utilised in each of your cells. This leads invariably to low thyroid function.

Blood tests usually measure the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) being produced by the body. It is considered to be a really incomplete blood test, and may be interpreted as ‘normal’ by the general practitioner (GP). If a blood test does not test your levels of thyroid hormones like thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), you do not truly get the whole picture.

In interpreting a blood test for thyroid function, the TSH level is important in telling us the condition of our thyroid health. If the TSH result is high, it means that you have insufficient T4 and T3. Conversely, if the TSH level is low, you have excess T4 and T3. It should also be noted that the amount of hormone being assimilated into each of the cells can be abnormal due to the presence of TBG. You may not be converting inactive T4 into the active T3 form efficiently. Therefore, a thorough thyroid function blood test is highly need to check your levels of TSH, T4, T3, reverse T3, and autoantibodies, an indicator of autoimmune disease.

For this reason, women who suffer from oestrogen dominance may exhibit symptoms of hyperthyroidism (low thyroid function). An underfunctioning thyroid can have a significant impact on the ability to conceive children.

Some symptoms of low thyroid function in women may include irregular or skipped periods, blood clotting and heavy bleeding, unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight (despite having a healthy diet and regular exercise), and fatigue. This is certainly not a comprehensive list of symptoms and, of course, could be contributed to other health conditions. However, 25% of women who have been previously diagnosed with unexplained infertility may have hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone synthesis). Hypothyroidism reduces the levels of luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which are critical in the maturation of egg follicles and the production of oestrogen and progesterone.

It is highly important to not only get your hormone levels checked, but to also undergo a comprehensive thyroid function test to get a clearer understanding of your health as a whole when preparing for a healthy pregnancy.

Thyroid and pregnancy

Don’t lose hope if you feel like you’ve been doing everything right, diet and lifestyle wise – there is always a light at the end of a dark tunnel! You may consult and work with a natural health care professional such as a naturopath who has an understanding of the linkage between thyroid, hormones, and infertility. Healing factors like poor digestive function may be affecting how well the body converts thyroid hormones into its active and useable form. You can also consult natural fertility management specialist that can help you out. Every patient is unique and requires a multi-faceted, personalised approach to treatment using a combination of nutritional supplements, diet, mineral therapy and herbal medicines.

Natasha Zervaas works as a qualified naturopath for Green Secrets Holistic Health Clinic in Berwick Victoria. For more information about Natasha, check out their website. You can also check out her article about thyroid problems.


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Originally published on Feb 21, 2018

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