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Thyroid and Infertility – The thyroid is a little gland situated in the neck. Its work, as an essential part of the endocrine system, is to control human body’s metabolism, the cycle by which the body converts what you eat and drink into energy through the hormones it discharges.

The thyroid gets a message from the pituitary gland by means of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and releases triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and calcitonin.  While many know that an imbalance of TSH, T3, and T4 can cause weight or mood changes, it can also affect your menstrual cycle and fertility.

Thyroid Dysfunction and Reproductive Health

Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can each adversely affect fertility both the ability to become pregnant and the ability to carry a fetus to term.

Abnormal TSH levels can interfere with ovulation and that when you have any sort of thyroid issue (without proper treatment), you will see a luteal phase (the last 50% of the cycle after ovulation) disturbance.

Thyroid dysfunction can affect fertility in following ways:

  • Disruption of the menstrual cycle, making it harder to conceive.
  • Interference with the release of an egg from the ovaries (ovulation)
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Increased risk of premature birth

Thyroid Disease and Male Infertility

Although thyroid infection is often viewed as a women concern, around 33% of hypothyroidism cases emerge in men. Whenever left untreated, an underactive thyroid can prompt male infertility.

Studies show that low thyroid hormone levels in men can cause poor semen quality, low sperm count, diminished testicular capacity, erectile dysfunction and a drop in libido. Whenever hypothyroidism is diagnosed in a man to have fertility issues, bringing thyroid hormone levels once more into the normal levels for the most part restores erectile function.

Hypothyroidism and Infertility

Hypothyroidism can be easily treated, and once you get your thyroid levels back to a normal range, you can become pregnant. Treatment involves taking synthetic thyroid hormone in pill form. Though it may take a few months to determine the proper amount of hormone for you, once you and your doctor determine your optimal dosage, “you should be feeling yourself again and be able to conceive.

When hypothyroidism is the reason for infertility, taking thyroid medication will enable most women to conceive, from as soon as six weeks after treatment, according to a study. Many women who have a problem conceiving may have no apparent symptoms of hypothyroidism and only slightly elevated TSH levels, making it all the more important to have a TSH blood test if you’re having a hard time getting pregnant and don’t know why.

Treating hypothyroidism with medication not only improved conception rates, but also reduced miscarriages early in pregnancy, which can happen as a result of untreated severe hypothyroidism.

Evaluation of Thyroid Related Infertility

If you’re under the age of 35 and haven’t been able to conceive after a year of trying, or you’re over 35 and have been trying for six months, it’s a good idea to schedule a comprehensive infertility evaluation.

Because hormones play a critical role in every stage of conception and pregnancy, assessing thyroid function is an essential component of your infertility checkup. It’s especially important if you have a family history of thyroid disorders, or if you’ve ever experienced irregular periods or multiple miscarriages.

For women who are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, medication is often all it takes to balance hormone levels and restore fertility. As always, your personal treatment plan depends on your exact diagnosis.