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Thyroid Disorders and Fertility

Thyroid disorders are quite common in women during the childbearing years. This has a significant impact on their fertility. This article will help you to understand the relationship between thyroid disorders and fertility problems. Keep reading...
Thyroid is an important gland of the body and is located at the base of the neck near the windpipe. It secretes two important hormones, namely thyroxine or T4 and triiodothyronine or T3, which are involved with various metabolic processes that are vital to the body. Any thyroid disorder prevents normal functioning of the thyroid gland. This leads to several health complications. It primarily affects hormonal based bodily functions. A woman's reproductive system often gets disturbed because of this disorder and it becomes difficult for her to conceive. Let's understand the relation between thyroid disorders and fertility issues that crop up due to an affected thyroid gland.

Effects of Thyroid Disorders on Fertility
When it comes to female infertility, there are numerous causes attached to it. Those which are more commonly associated with it are blockage or damage to the fallopian tube, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), etc. Many times, it is ignored but it is a fact that thyroid problems have an adverse impact on a woman's fertility. This is because thyroid problems tend to interfere with the menstrual cycle. Moreover, the balance between the two reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone, gets disrupted.

Thyroid disorder is mainly of two different types. They are 'hypothyroidism' which is characterized by less production of thyroid hormones and 'hyperthyroidism' or overactivity of thyroid gland that leads to excessive production of thyroid hormones. Usually, it has been found that women with hypothyroidism have more difficulties in becoming pregnant as compared to those with hyperthyroidism.

In hypothyroidism, level of thyroid hormones is low, which makes the bodily processes extremely slow. The identifiable physical symptoms of hypothyroidism are weight gain, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, digestive problems, etc. Another significant effect is, of course, irregularity in the menstrual cycle. Women with hypothyroidism tend to experience heavy menstrual flow that lasts for a longer duration of time than usual. As a result, the body suffers huge blood loss that may lead to anemia and depletion of essential vitamins from the body. This nutritional deficiency weakens the body and reduces the chances of pregnancy. Abnormal weight gain due to hypothyroidism can also contribute towards fertility problems.

In hyperthyroidism cases, the symptoms are slightly different. They include weight loss, palpitation, rapid heart rate and low menstrual flow or no menstruation at all. In case of lack of periods, there is no ovulation, which means there is no egg to fertilize. In this condition, the chances of conception becomes quite less, if not, impossible.

Overcoming Thyroid Disorders
Every woman with thyroid disorder should undergo proper treatment before conception to ensure a healthy life for both the mother and the baby. An endocrinologist should be consulted for the treatment of thyroid disorder. The levels of thyroid hormones is first ascertained with the help of blood tests for thyroid function. Those with underactive thyroid are treated with thyroid replacement medicine. The dosage of the medicine depends on the level of the hormone. The patient has to undergo a blood test after regular intervals of time to check the hormonal levels and the dose of the medicine is prescribed or changed accordingly. On the other hand, treatment for overactive thyroid is more complicated where antithyroid medicines are prescribed in order to bring down the level of thyroid hormones. Once a woman overcomes the thyroid disorder and successfully conceives, she should continue with her treatment as per the instructions of the endocrinologist in order to prevent any pregnancy complications. Abnormal level of thyroid hormones during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, mental retardation of the baby, etc.

Women who are diagnosed with thyroid disorders should not feel disappointed and assume that they cannot bear a child. You too can successfully deliver a healthy baby if you keep the levels of thyroid hormones in check. This is possible only if you take the prescribed medicines on time, pay a regular visit to the endocrinologist and follow his instructions.
By Bidisha Mukherjee
Published: 6/16/2011
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