Sometimes, infertility issues in women can be linked to the health of their thyroid glands. For couples trying to conceive, both partners will want to invest time and attention to maintaining optimal health and wellness to increase their chances for success. To help with those odds, today we’re providing a basic overview of an important but often overlooked area of women’s health: the proper functioning of their thyroid gland.
It’s a more common health issue than most people realize. Some experts put the total number of Americans that will develop a thyroid condition at 20 million. Women are more often affected, with about one in eight women developing a thyroid issue at some point in her lifetime.
A thyroid condition can impact health and lead to infertility issues. But before we can discuss how thyroid health impacts infertility, let’s start by talking about what they thyroid is and what it does in the body.
How the thyroid functions, and how an unhealthy thyroid can lead to infertility issues
In general, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck that produces hormones that help to regulate growth and metabolism in the body. The two hormones produced are called thyroxine and triiodothyronine. There are two primary ways that the thyroid can malfunction. It can either over or underproduce the hormones that regulate body functions.
When the thyroid gland over produces hormones, it leads to a condition called hyperthyroidism. The additional production of thyroid hormone will speed up the metabolism, which may sound good but can actually cause anxiety and overactivity, insomnia, fatigue and muscle weakness. An over active thyroid may also lead to excess growth of the gland, called a goiter.
An overactive thyroid can also lead to infertility issue by lessening or stopping your monthly periods, a process that can interfere with your ovulation cycle.
On the other end of the spectrum, when the thyroid gland underproduces hormones it is called hypothyroidism. Symptoms may include fatigue and lethargy, a sense of being cold all of the time, brittle hair and nails, slowed growth, constipation, dry skin, and unexplained weight gain.
An under active thyroid gland can also lead to infertility issues by interfering with libido. When the gland underproduces hormones, it won’t produce at the levels needed to prompt the fertility cycle to function properly. Low levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with the release of the egg from ovaries during ovulation, and can also increase the risk of miscarriage after conception.
So, what can you do to preserve thyroid health and protect yourself from infertility issues?
- Visit your health care provider. Make a thyroid screening part of your regular self care routine.
- Know your body. Watch for symptoms of changes, and be sure to discuss those with your doctor.
- Eat a healthy diet and get proper rest. Your body can’t maintain optimal function without the proper self care.
- Stay active, and do your best to maintain a healthy weight.
- Get informed. Learn all you can about how to take good care of yourself.
For many hopeful parents-to-be, natural conception is preferable to IVF. To protect your fertility and health, it is important to turn to trusted health care providers to learn what you need to know to take care of yourself. For comprehensive infertility treatment, turn to the experts at Couri & Smyth Health for Life Medical Center.